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Business leaders challenged to invest in the next generation through apprenticeships and enterprise

Business leaders challenged to invest in the next generation through apprenticeships and enterprise

Newcastle College issued a challenge to business leaders this week - invest in just one young person by taking on an apprentice and help tackle the growing issue of youth unemployment in the north east.

The college laid down the gauntlet at 'what's up with the economy?', a business event held on Wednesday evening at The Baltic in Newcastle, which was attended by over 50 representatives from key businesses across the region.

Deputy Principal, Robin Ghurbhurun unveiled the college's latest apprenticeship campaign, the Power of One, and outlined the significant economic and social benefits that taking on just one young apprentice can bring to a business. Through its free recruitment and matching service, the college can help employers to recruit enthusiastic and motivated members of staff and develop bespoke training, which meets the specific requirements of the business.

Mr Ghurbhurun said: "In this tough economic climate businesses are reluctant to take on new members of staff. The Chancellor's Autumn Statement paints a bleak picture for growth and it is understandable that employers are taking a more cautious approach to investment.

"However, it is imperative that we continue to invest in the next generation and provide opportunities for them to realise their potential and contribute to the local economy. The Power of One provides employers with a cost effective way to recruit motivated individuals who are ready and willing to learn on the job. The employer will benefit from an additional team member and the knowledge that they have given something back to the local community."

Mr Ghurbhurun also talked about how the college is trying to help tackle youth unemployment by encouraging its students to be more enterprising. Guests were asked to consider how they could support the next generation, including the college's 30,000 students, who are all looking for an opportunity.

This view was supported by Roy Stanley, entrepreneur and founder of the Tanfield Group, who asked for an immediate commitment from guests to support one person to set up in business.

Mr Stanley said: "I am passionate about social enterprise. The market sometimes breaks down in our most deprived areas and I want to see the community band together and create enterprise.

"Newcastle College is embedding enterprise across its curriculum and helping young people with the aspiration to create their own businesses. Enterprise creates employment and we must support those with an idea and buy into those opportunities."

Other key speakers at the event included Professor Graeme Leach, Chief Economist and Director of Policy at the IoD, and Rosie Smith, North East Agent for the Bank of England.

Professor Leach ran through a view of the UK economic outlook in light of the Chancellor's Autumn Statement, stating that in the current economic climate "it is difficult to forecast tomorrow, never mind weeks, months and years".

Comparing the recession to that of the 80s, Professor Leach said: "The story this time is very different. There are a number of explanatory factors and a far more subdued recovery. Disposable income fell last year and then again this year. There is a significant squeeze on household income due to higher VAT and direct taxes. Consumers and businesses are displaying cautionary and postponement behaviour."

He also talked about growing concerns in the Eurozone, adding: "Throw in all of the speculation about the Eurozone and it adds to the downward pressure. There is so much uncertainty and we are seeing a flat line view of the world. The situation is so fluid you can lose track. Governments can come to the rescue, but they simply don't have the money or the power to control the money supply."

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