The region’s largest bus operator, Go North East has won the Best Apprentice/School Leaver Recruitment Strategy accolade at the national Recruiter Awards for its apprenticeship scheme, implemented to tackle the industry’s skills shortage and running in partnership with Gateshead College.

Held at the Grosvenor House Hotel, Park Lane in London, on the evening of 3rd May 2017, the Recruiter Awards are the UK’s largest event for the entire recruitment community, recognising outstanding achievements across the UK.

Having demonstrated to the judges, which comprised leading business, HR and recruitment specialists, a recruitment approach which had: “a clear attraction strategy[and] which was multi-chained and well diversified,” Go North East came out victorious above Egger UK, Compass Group and the DirectLine Group. The Recruiter judges said: “Go North East’s entry demonstrated a clear attraction strategy, which was multi chained and well-diversified. It has an excellent reputation in the region.”

Run in partnership with Gateshead College, the four-year employee-embedded scheme receives more than 500 (545 in 2016) applications for the average intake of 10 new apprentices, each year. Presently, around a quarter of its engineering workforce are apprentices at varying levels of training.

The selected apprentices train at Gateshead College’s £5.5 million Skills Academy for Automotive, Engineering, Manufacturing and Logistics based at Team Valley in Gateshead, which recently received an investment of more than £300,000 in brand new engineering workshops, providing state of the art lathes, milling machines and supporting tools.

Kevin Carr, Managing Director at Go North East said: “An ageing workforce and a period when young people turned to more academic, rather than vocational employment opportunities has resulted in the bus and coach industry facing a national skills shortage. 

“Before partnering with Gateshead College, we relied heavily on agency staff to maintain our vehicle fleet, which was unsustainable. Now our apprentices are a core component of our engineering team recruitment and the dropout rate for apprentices has decreased from 75% to just 10% proving how well it works for our workforce.

“To be acknowledged at a national level for our apprenticeship programme proves we have a winning formula for our engineering recruitment needs.”

Ivan Jepson, director of business development at Gateshead College, said: “Vocational qualifications, such as our apprenticeship partnership with Go North East, are a fantastic education option; they give school leavers work-ready skills demanded by employers as well as providing organisations with the talented workforces they need now and in the long run.

For our work to be recognised at a national level further demonstrates that the vocational route shouldn’t be overlooked by young people as they consider their options after school as they lead to exciting and worthwhile careers.”

For more information about Go North East, visit www.gonortheast.co.uk.