A LEADING North East training provider is urging government to give local authorities power to channel funding for training into sectors that need the most support, after a report claimed that youth unemployment could be cut by 20 per cent with greater local control.

The Local Government Association (LGA) said that attempts to cut youth unemployment in England are being hampered by excessive bureaucracy and central government control, and that division of training funding at a local level would help to ensure that young people are supported to enter industries in which there are skills shortages.

Michael Blades, business development manager at Newton Aycliffe based SW Durham Training (SWDT), a 45-year old company that delivers engineering and manufacturing apprenticeships and training support, wants to see increased government localisation in order to encourage more people to enter sectors that will help grow the economy.

He said: “With companies such as Nifco and Nissan on our doorstep and Hitachi Rail headed to the region just a stone’s throw away from us in Newton Aycliffe, there can be little doubt that the manufacturing and engineering industry is thriving in the North East. With projected future growth, it is absolutely vital that we take steps now to future-proof this sector and do what we can to create a pipeline of people with the right skills to ensure that the sector continues to prosper.

“Balancing supply and demand is something we have to get right, and in the case of manufacturing and engineering, we’re some way away from achieving this. Greater local control would enable local councils to look at the industries that are burgeoning in their area, and ensure that funding is administered in a way that meets their projected growth. In the case of the North East, we should be encouraging more people to train for careers in manufacturing and engineering, sectors in which there is no shortage of well-paid roles, but not enough talent.”

Research led by the Local Government Association (LGA) found that more than 94,000 people completed hair and beauty courses last year, even though there were only 18,000 new jobs in the sector. By contrast, in construction, around 123,000 people were trained for around 275,000 advertised jobs.

The LGA said this was partly caused by colleges and training providers being paid for every student who receives a qualification, regardless of the local need for those skills.

Mr Blades added: “If funding was more closely aligned to industry needs it would ensure that people were training for roles in thriving sectors. A more localised approach would prevent people from spending years of their life developing skills that are not needed, and ultimately being left out of work. Manufacturing and engineering are two sectors that offer real job opportunities – the demand is absolutely there, and we just need to see more people sign up to earn while they learn and embark upon apprenticeships in these sectors.”

For more information about courses at South West Durham Training Ltd, visit www.southwestdurham.co.uk or call 01325 313 194.