Businesses need to make use of apprenticeships

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EMPLOYERS have been urged to make more use of apprentices to aid Portsmouth’s regeneration.

That was the key message at the Hampshire Chamber-led Future Portsmouth event.

The conference brought together more than 170 representatives from commerce, education, charities and local government.

A key theme was the ‘transformational’ benefit of City Deal funding in creating jobs. Delegates were given advice on how to find support, loans and grants for filling apprenticeship places.

Councillor Donna Jones, leader of Portsmouth City Council, said: ‘Portsmouth has a huge heart and we need to build on our strengths.’

As the region’s economy is moving away from shipbuilding and welding to advanced manufacturing in marine, maritime, aerospace and other sectors apprenticeships are becoming essential.

‘Key local industries are struggling to recruit people with the right skills,’ said Cllr Jones. ‘That is where apprenticeships can play a crucial role. They can inspire young people, and the businesses they work for, to achieve their aspirations.’

The event was held on the eve of National Apprenticeship Week and attracted more than 20 exhibiting organisations including Highbury College.

Dee John, executive director of the college and a member of Hampshire Chamber’s Portsmouth Area Committee, said: ‘We have seen a huge growth in apprenticeships and the college has very good relationships with around 1,200 local employers in all kinds of sectors.’

The college believes this number could increase if more employers found out about the benefits of apprenticeships.

Stewart Dunn, Hampshire Chamber chief executive, said: ‘The conference was a great way to focus on skills and apprenticeships with the various Portsmouth regeneration projects set to increase jobs in the supply chain.’

The event also highlighted the substantial regeneration projects under way or in the pipeline including the Ben Ainslie Racing hub at The Camber, a recently announced £10m research centre for maritime intelligence systems at Portsdown Hill and new homes and employment space in the city.