Business leaders have called for more government support for small manufacturing and engineering firms in the region.
A ‘Roundtable’ event hosted by Newcastle accountancy firm Tait Walker saw issues such as industry perception, the education experience gap and upskilling existing workforces discussed.
And among the attendees were representatives from Chirton Engineering Ltd, based in North Shields.
Paul Stewart, managing director of Chirton Engineering Ltd, said: “We are big advocates of apprenticeships, having adopted an in-house learning scheme for a number of years now.
“The skills shortage is a big issue for us, so work-based learning has formed a large part of our business agenda.
“We have an advanced machine academy set to launch in 2015, however one of the biggest barriers to getting this off the ground is access to funding and investment from government.”
A report outlining key findings and a framework for future manufacturing support will be delivered to local and national bodies by way of an appeal for combined efforts to help the advancement of the industry in the north east.
Andrew Moorby, managing partner at Tait Walker, said: “It was fantastic to hear all of the different viewpoints and experiences discussed around the table, the skills gap is clearly something our manufacturers feel very passionately about.
“They are taking steps to create their own academies and training facilities to try and fill the workforce void, which is becoming more and more key to this industry.
“We are privileged to have been able to drive an event like this and we’re committed to turning the session into positive actions.
“Whilst there are clearly concerns with issues which are difficult to fix in the short term – such as the skills gap, education and funding – the passion and commitment demonstrated by the attendees strongly indicates that, as a region, we can make a difference in the long term to really improve the skills gap and the perception of working in manufacturing.”