Hexham MP Guy Opperman has been meeting with apprentices at one of Northumberland’s largest manufacturing employers, as part of the Government’s National Apprenticeship Week.

He spoke to a number at Essity Prudhoe Mill – some just starting their training and others about to complete their apprenticeship – to hear their views on what employers and Government should be doing to increase the number of applicants.

“The 15th National Apprenticeship Week (February 7-13) is designed to showcase the positive impact that apprenticeships make on individuals, businesses and the wider economy,” he said.

“Global companies with sites in the region, like Essity, can offer fantastic careers to talented young people choosing not to go to university, instead opting to earn while they learn.

“At Prudhoe Mill, male and female school leavers are paid well above the minimum apprentice starting salary.  I would encourage young people across Tynedale and Ponteland to consider applying for these opportunities.’’

Essity’s mill & site manager Tony Richards invited the MP, and Northumberland county councillor Gordon Stewart, to tour Prudhoe Mill and talk to apprentices and employees about the critical importance of manufacturing to the NE economy and the wide range of opportunities on offer.

“Right across the UK manufacturing sector, there are more vacancies than there are applicants.  Government and business are grappling with the issue, so I thought it would be useful to let some of our apprentices speak for themselves,” he said.

“I think hearing it from the horse’s mouth really struck a chord with Guy.  It’s only when you hear these talented and enthusiastic young people talk about what motivated them to seek a career in manufacturing that you realise what we need to be doing to inspire the next generation.”