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Business & Economy

Wates Group joins Northern Coalition on Skills with largest-ever trainee and apprenticeship push

A company leading the design of a £450 million North East electric vehicle battery plant has joined a venture to boost skills and is embarking on its largest ever trainee and apprentice in-take.

Wates Group is now part of the Northern Coalition on Skills.

The business, which is overseeing design work on Envision AESC’s battery factory, which will sit on the International Advanced Manufacturing Park that straddles Sunderland and South Tyneside, has also pledged to create 96 new roles in 2022.

Bosses say a third of the recruits will be based in the North, which they say represents a rise of more than 40 per cent on its average youngster in-take since 2019.

The Northern Coalition on Skills, formed by the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, is made up of large businesses and SMEs.

Set up in August last year, it is focused on tackling the North-South skills gap, which it says has widened from four percentage points to seven percentage points over the last 16 years.

It also aims to return apprenticeship numbers to pre-pandemic levels, with the number of people starting an apprenticeship falling by 58,000 nationally over the past two years, an impact being felt worst in the North, where the number dropped by 23,000 – a 22 per cent decrease.

Steve Beechey, Wates Group public sector director, said: “As a key contractor on many public sector frameworks, we are working hard to support the Government’s levelling-up agenda.

“This won’t be possible without businesses across sectors getting involved and we’re proud to be part of the solution driving to close the North-South skills divide.

“We’re now calling on more businesses to follow our lead and commit to providing training and job opportunities, helping to upskill communities and create the next generation of workers across the UK.”

Paul Dodsworth, regional managing director at Wates Construction North, said: “This important initiative supports our commitment to creating opportunities for young people and will help to further expand our footprint in the North.

“We are working on many landmark developments across the region, and achieving our ambitious growth targets will only be possible with a skilled workforce.”

Sarah Mulholland, head of policy at the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, added: “Investing in upskilling and reskilling our workforce enables people to access higher paid roles, while acting as an engine for an economic recovery from the pandemic.

“It’s fantastic to see big businesses like Wates making a commitment to providing more training and career opportunities.

“We need to see more companies doing the same: helping more people into innovative future-ready industries while creating a more productive, balanced economy.”