Designers, supplier, installers and maintenance of mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems, GasTech currently have 7 apprentices within the business with a variety of roles from heating and plumbing, service engineers and business administration.

Craig Firth, MD gave us an insight into what apprentices mean to the business, what the apprenticeship provision is like in North Tyneside and what he’d do to improve the apprenticeship system.

What do apprentices mean to you and your business?

Apprentices are an integral part of our current business and our future business plan. Employing apprentices on an annual basis has allowed us to scale our business with a consistent approach to staffing levels and knowledge.

What / or how many barriers did you have to overcome to hire an apprentice?

The main barriers we have encountered when employing apprentices’ is lack of quality applicants, awareness of apprenticeships and a lack of training centres who can deliver the courses we need.

What are your views on the apprenticeship system in North Tyneside?

At present we only have one of our apprentices with a training provider based in North Tyneside due to limited course availability. Again, we struggled to find quality applicants for the roles offered. There would appear to be a lack of knowledge and/or understanding of what an apprenticeship is and what it can offer in terms of job prospects.

How important are new skills and upskilling existing staff for your business?

This is crucial to our business, with advances in technology our skill can quickly become redundant therefore as a business we invest strongly in training, upskilling and new technologies. We believe this will become more relevant in the future.

What is the one thing you’d do to improve the apprenticeship system?

Raise awareness and people’s opinion of apprenticeships. It would seem to us that the education system is intent on raising education standards which in turn will lead to more people attending university. This is leading to a shortage of applicants for apprenticeships as they are not as prestigious as a degree. However this is leading to an abundance of highly educated young people whose skill set is not relevant to the current labour market.

North Tyneside Business Forum set up an Apprenticeship Working Group earlier this year to tackle the issue of apprenticeships, training and the complicated landscape for businesses in North Tyneside. The group would now like to find out more about the demand for apprentices and skills across North Tyneside from the local businesses which recruit local talent in the area. On 15th October, we’re holding “What’s your views? Apprenticeships and Skills” at Accenture, Cobalt Park – find out more by visiting the event page

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