Business secretary Vince Cable has rolled out a new initiative that will provide apprenticeship training for young people in the north-east of the UK.
The Sembcorp Skills Development Programme - which is being led by Sembcorp Utilities UK - is aimed at people between the ages of 16 and 24 who require support in making the first steps towards a solid career.
It will focus on equipping participants with the skills they need to compete for an apprenticeship in process industry manufacturing, at the same time as making it easier for small and medium-sized companies to take on the new recruits.
The scheme will consist of a six-month Pre-Apprenticeship Programme for 100 individuals not in related employment, a three-year apprenticeship for 100 other young people and a three-week practical course for 100 graduates who would benefit from greater awareness of the sector.
George Ritchie, senior vice-president for HR at Sembcorp Utilities UK, said the initiative marks a radical change from the way apprenticeships have been designed and delivered in the past.
He added that as the company has been given the freedom to design its own training, "we can shape something specifically meeting our own needs and those of our supply chain partners as we face the challenges of the coming decades".
Up to £3.4 million of funding will be provided by the government's Employer Ownership of Skills Pilot (EOP) and extended to employers including Huntsman Polyurethanes, Chemoxy International, Lucite International, Aesica Pharmaceuticals and High Force Research.
Mr Cable said quality apprenticeships have been proven to open the doors to enviable, well-paid careers and offer numerous business benefits, such as skilled workers and increased competitiveness.
He remarked: "This is why [the] government has committed record investment into apprenticeships and introduced programmes like the EOP to help create the right conditions for growth."
This comes after the politician made a visit to the north-east yesterday (May 13th) in order to launch the Exporting is Great campaign, which is designed to highlight support available to small companies hoping to break into international markets.