Deputy PM in borough visit

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THE deputy prime minister has been in North Tyneside this week.

Nick Clegg was given a tour of SMD (Soil Machine Dynamics) Limited in Davy Bank, Wallsend on Tuesday.

And following his visit, the deputy PM praised the company’s forward thinking approach to business.

He said: “This company is a brilliant illustration of what we should be doing for the economy as a whole.

“SMD is a vision of successful British business that’s at the cutting edge, promoting its expertise around the world and creating employment opportunities for young people.”

The company design and manufacture a range of remotely operated subsea vehicles used all over the world by customers from energy (oil and gas, marine renewables and offshore wind infrastructure, nuclear), to telecoms, mining, naval/military and scientific communities.

SMD’s success has resulted in the company trebling in size in three years, increasing its workforce to 500.

In addition, the company has recently opened two new production facilities to facilitate the business’ growth.

CEO Andrew Hodgson is currently vice-chairman of NELEP (North Eastern Local Enterprise Partnership) with specific responsibility for employment and skills together with Centre for Offshore Renewable Engineering.

He said: “Our skills philosophy is simple, we get the best people we can and then encourage them to continue learning throughout their career.

“If you want to increase the average skill level of an organisation it is much easier to increase the skills of the people you employ rather than thinking it is all about new entrants.

“This counts as much for the region as any individual business.

“We also pay strong attention to how people will fit with our culture when we recruit.

“Attitude and drive are as important in getting a job as hard skills.”

“As a company we recognise that softer skills such as dealing with customers, communication skills, attitude to safety and so on are increasingly important for everyone in the organisation, and we commit a significant part of our training costs in this area.”