Supporters of apprenticeships in Hartlepool have spoken up in favour of their benefits after a survey found a quarter of UK businesses have never considered them.
Hartlepool College of Further Education and town civil engineering firm Seymour say apprenticeship schemes bring great results for businesses, young people and the wider community.
They were reacting to a recent survey of more than 1,000 UK employers by employment agency The Adecco Group.
An alarming statistic was that one in four has never thought about apprentices.
In a bid to fund new apprenticeships, a new apprenticeship levy came into effect on April 6 and applies to all UK companies with a wage bill of £3m or more.
Andrew Thompson, HR manager at Seymour Civil Engineering said: “We can only see the benefits of something like the apprenticeship levy. By being a part of it we get to train people in the Seymour Standard.
“It’s also important to work closely with local colleges and training boards to ensure that young people in the area have a chance at hands on training for their career.”
Lewis Hunt, a management trainee at Seymour, said: “One of the main benefits of apprenticeships over traditional education is it allows you to get your foot on the ladder.
“Also, I get paid to do this so I can set myself up a little bit more. In some cases like mine the company you work for actually helps fund your education and encourages you to do your best by allowing you the time and the right environment to learn and grow.”
Darren Hankey, principal of Hartlepool College of Further Education, which last year was ranked second in the country for apprenticeship success, said: “The fact that one in four firms do not consider apprenticeships is hardly surprising.
“A more alarming statistic is the fact that only about one in four firms in the North East take on apprentices and this is something, which needs urgent attention and probably a key driver of the recent reforms.
“Apprenticeships are a superb way of ensuring firms can address workforce development needs.
“For many firms the cost of apprenticeships is extremely low with the government paying 90% of fees – in some instances there are no fees to pay.
“Furthermore, there are many wonderful providers, including Hartlepool College of Further Education, which offer outstanding apprenticeship training and skills development.”