The number of apprenticeships in the North East must be increased as a matter of urgency, said local UKIP MEP Jonathan Arnott.
“National Apprenticeship Week has quite rightly trained the spotlight on apprenticeships and I don’t think that anywhere in the country would benefit more than this region.
“The economic potential for the North East is massive and there are tens of thousands of young people who could benefit from the opportunity to get a placement.
“The crazy target for 50% of school leavers heading to university has done some no favours with their hard working efforts being devalued by the sheer numbers now obtaining degrees.
“If, as has been suggested, some employers, schools and young people believe apprenticeships are a second rate option compared to a university place they need to have a re-think, particularly for higher level apprenticeships.
“For apprentices it means that as well as earning a salary while you learn on the job they avoid student debts that now average more than £44,000 and gives them a flying start on life,” said Mr Arnott.
“And for employers it means they can develop a mutually beneficial top notch work force,” said Mr Arnott.