UK GDP Revised Up

The UK economy grew by 3.2% in quarter two compared with the same period last year, slightly higher than the 3.1% estimate released earlier this year.

The figures have also confirmed that the UK economy saw its best economic performance for six years and has now surpassed its 2008 peak.

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Posted in Economy by mark.stephenson. No Comments

Positive Labour Market Figures in August

Once again the North East has provided a record breaking set of figures with more people in full time employment than ever before. A welcome addition to this is the decrease in the employment rate – one of the biggest two decreases in the UK – and an across the board decrease in unemployment.

The improvement in the North East employment rate remains one of the more eye-catching in the UK and is one of two that the Office for National Statistics deems as “statistically significant”.

The decrease in the claimant count figure is again welcome and continues a longer-term trend.  This figure is now at its lowest since September 2008 before the financial crisis and the economic downturn.

However, the North East still has the lowest overall employment rate as well as the highest unemployment rate in the UK which highlights the significant challenges that remain.

  • Employment in the North East stands at 1,191,000 or 70% – a rise of 15,000 over the quarter and 64,000 over the year. This compares to a rate of 73% nationally.
  • North East unemployment stands at 126,000 or 9.5% – a decrease of 10,000 over the quarter and a decrease of 6,000 over the year. This compares to a rate of 6.4% nationally.
  • The claimant count stands at 60,000 or 5% in the North East, compared to 3% nationally.

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Posted in Economy by mark.stephenson. No Comments

NECC response to Traineeship Funding consultation

NECC has responded to the traineeship funding consultation focussed on reviewing the current traineeship programme.

NECC has highlighted the vital role that traineeships can play in developing young people’s skills and the significant role this programme can play in leading to apprenticeship and job creation.  However, we have stressed that currently the criteria for traineeships is too restrictive and prevents the most appropriate candidates from being able to participate.

The eligibility rules for 19 to 24 year olds needs to be changed so that 19 to 24 year olds can undertake a Traineeship if they are already qualified to a full Level 2, it is this strict element to the criteria which is the current failing in the existing traineeship system.  With traineeships being aimed at those young people who will be ready for work or an apprenticeship in six months, this disparity over the Level 2 criteria cause’s issues and means that many that would be suitable for the traineeship are ruled out.

NECC also highlighted the need for more promotion and marketing of the traineeship programme to ensure employers, learners, parents, schools etc. are familiar with the programme and how it can help young people get a foot on the ladder.

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Posted in Education & Skills by lucy.humphreys. No Comments

Process Industries North East Launchpad

‘Launchpad’ is for businesses grouped in and around the Wilton Centre, Seal Sands and Billingham who are in the early stages of project development.

It aims to provide vital funding and business support to SMEs based in the specified North East locations above to enable them to bring new projects to market faster. This will cover industrial research projects that support the development and commercialisation of innovative processing technologies, systems or products, taking them from proof of concept to prototype.

Eligible projects should cost £50,000-£200,000 and last 12-24 months. Successful applicants will receive up to 60% of the project costs and TSB will support applicants in accessing the additional finance needed to complete the project.

The first stage of the competition opens on 1st September 2014 and closes on 15th October 2014. A more information event will take place on Tuesday, 9 September 2014 from 09:30 to 12:30 at Wynyard Park house, to register please click here.

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Posted in Innovation by lucy.humphreys. No Comments

A level results 2014

It is good to see that Maths and Science subjects occupy the top five highest entry subjects as well as computing gaining 11% increase in participants which shows real progression in increasing popularity for subjects that have a strong STEM focus. This should provide some reassurance to businesses working across STEM industries that steps are being made to address the skills gaps we face across these traditionally strong North East sectors. The continued decrease in the take up of foreign languages is a worrying trend particularly in relation to the government’s ambitious targets around encouraging international trade as a means to secure Britain’s future economic success. Having strong knowledge of a foreign language is an excellent way of preparing young people for the wide-range of opportunities available in today’s globalised world.

The halting of continuous grade inflation will also help to restore business confidence in A-levels.  For further information please click here.

While the results are encouraging we cannot deny that youth unemployment is a long-standing problem in the UK, it is vital that people coming out of full time education are equipped with the right skills to integrate into the regional workforce.

There is an increasing appetite from schools, colleges and universities to engage with the business community and there are already some great programmes in place across our region that do just this but more NECC businesses need to get involved to ensure young people get a realistic understanding of opportunities and careers within the North East.

As young people assess their next move, it is important that vocational pathways such as apprenticeships are also considered as they offer an increasingly attractive option to those seeking an alternative to university. With employers attaching greater importance to workplace experience, it is vital young people are aware of the skills and practical experience required to enter the workforce.

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Posted in Education & Skills International Trade by lucy.humphreys. No Comments