CBI President Paul Drechsler (left) and Middlesbrough College STEM director Ian Smith (right) tour t
Jamie Hardesty

CBI President backs Teesside’s skills training approach

Paul Drechsler, President of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), visited Teesside recently to lend his support to the region’s approach to skills development.

Spending 24 years on Teesside in the early part of his career, the former ICI worker took time out to tour Middlesbrough College’s STEM Centre where he witnessed students and apprentices gaining practical experience in a simulated industrial environment.

Mr Drechsler praised the approach of the College and its training arm, Northern Skills Group, which together work closely with industry to develop and provide skills solutions.

He said: “North East economic growth in the years ahead will depend on having a labour force that can exploit new technologies and discoveries, so workers with a background in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) will increasingly be in demand.

“The Government’s new Industrial Strategy must help ensure that the skills needs of businesses can be effectively delivered at a local level.

“The longer-term solution lies in making sure more of our young people have access to the rewarding nature of work in STEM-based careers and Middlesbrough College is making a real mark here on Teesside.”

Northern Skills Group works with more than 2,000 apprentices every year across a range of industries, and is currently helping businesses to prepare for changes involved in the Apprenticeship Levy.

Zoe Lewis, principal and chief executive of Middlesbrough College, added: “It was great to show Paul the bubbling ambition here in our region, and as an adopted Teessider himself, he knows just how tenacious and innovative the area is.

“At Middlesbrough College and Northern Skills Group we approach skills training as a partnership that is attuned to the needs of businesses.

“With devolution we have a great opportunity to shape skills provision for our region, and it is particularly encouraging that more businesses than ever before are investing their time and expertise in the development of programmes at the College to assure a pipeline of talent in the region for the longer term.”

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