Renewables industry 'in need of more apprentices'
SKILLS minister Matthew Hancock has said he is "acutely aware" of the need for more apprenticeships to support the renewables sector in the Humber.
Speaking ahead of the sixth annual National Apprenticeship Week, the minister praised it as an example of "a big, fast-growing industry with potential to really turn around the city and region".
But he said the Government had to make sure that skills needs "are taken care of in the same way as physical infrastructure".
Mr Hancock added: "I'm acutely aware of the need for more skills to support the renewables sector.
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"Across government, we're setting out industrial strategies sector by sector and they each have a skills strand, to make sure we tie up the forward-looking needs of sectors with what employers actually need."
His comments came as official statistics showed there were 3,440 new apprenticeship "starts" in Hull during 2011-12.
And across Yorkshire and the Humber, the number of apprenticeships almost doubled, from 36,530 in 2009-10 to 64,200 in 2011-12.
Mr Hancock, who visited Hull in January to meet training providers, said the rise was due to "getting the word out that apprenticeships offer value for money".
He said: "In the Yorkshire and Humber region, there's a huge number of employers who say they need skills to help them improve their businesses, and apprenticeships deliver that."
Apprenticeship Week takes place from Monday, March 11 to Friday, March 15 and is designed to celebrate the positive impact they have on individuals, businesses and the economy.
Mr Hancock said: "Apprenticeships deliver. Recent research shows higher apprenticeships increase your lifetime earning as much as going to university.
"Apprenticeship Week will all be structured around how apprenticeships are good for the apprentice, good for the employer and also good for the taxpayer.
"Apprenticeships can be part of the core training needs of businesses, and all the businesses I've spoken to have found it a very positive experience, which helps ensure their businesses are sustainable for a long time to come."
Hull East MP Karl Turner said: "I am a huge supporter of apprenticeships and would encourage local business to take advantage of the many opportunities the apprenticeship schemes provide.
"I employed an apprentice when I was elected and he is now a valued full-time member of staff.
"Apprenticeships reduce recruitment costs, reduce staff turnover and improve motivation and productivity.
"Under Labour plans, firms that win contracts, such as the high-speed rail service between London and Leeds, would be told to take on one apprentice for each £1million they get of taxpayers' money.
"We have a ticking time bomb of a problem in Hull with ever-increasing, long-term youth unemployment.
"These schemes can offer a real opportunity to get young people into work with recognised qualifications.
"I believe apprenticeships should have the same status as going to university."