Becoming a Sunderland Nissan apprentice ‘tougher than getting into Oxford’

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BECOMING a Nissan apprentice is tougher than getting into Oxford University, business leaders have been told.

Increasing the number of apprenticeships in the region is a key part of the six-month North East Independent Economic Review, unveiled to an invited audience of business and civic leaders and media at Sunderland’s new Vantec warehouse yesterday.

Lord Adonis talking with 4th year Nissan apprentice Alex Fife (left) at the Skills Academy for Manufacturing & Innovation, at Nissan

Lord Adonis talking with 4th year Nissan apprentice Alex Fife (left) at the Skills Academy for Manufacturing & Innovation, at Nissan

The audience heard the car giant had attracted 50 applicants for each of its latest batch of 20 apprenticeships, compared to 10 applications for each place at the country’s top university.

Business and unions leaders united to welcome yesterday’s proposals, which include all seven councils in the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) area coming together to create a new Combined Authority to oversee economic development across the region.

North East Chamber of Commerce chief executive James Ramsbotham was impressed by what the team, led by Lord Andrew Adonis, had come up with.

“There are a lot of positive ideas to take forward,” he said. “The big challenge is making sure all the people who need to make this happen pull together.

Lord Adonis talking with 4th year Nissan apprentice Martin Gregory (right) at the Skills Academy for Manufacturing & Innovation, at Nissan

Lord Adonis talking with 4th year Nissan apprentice Martin Gregory (right) at the Skills Academy for Manufacturing & Innovation, at Nissan

“That means all seven local authorities working in conjunction with the LEP to promote business growth.”

The Confederation of British Industry’s North East director Sarah Green was also impressed with the report’s proposals.

“I think it offers a great opportunity for the region to coalesce around one set of priorities,” she said.

“It is great to see a comprehensive review of the region’s opportunities, and some of the challenges which need addressing.”

There was backing, too, from TUC regional secretary Kevin Rowan.

“It is a report that shows great ambition and reflects the need for a clear vision,” he said.

“The TUC will be foursquare behind it and working hard to deliver the aspirations of this report.”

Lord Adonis said he was delighted with the response to yesterday’s event.

“I thought it was great,” he said. “There was real enthusiasm and a really strong level of support.

“We really need the backing of public and private sectors in the North East to make this happen.”