Following today's Budget (16.03.16), Sharon reacted by saying:
“For the eighth time in six years the Chancellor has presented a Budget which fails to balance the books, fails to grow our economy and fails to improve the lives of hardworking people across the country, especially here in the North-East.
“Instead of the Government’s empty rhetoric about supporting the next generation, what we have seen in this Budget is the Chancellor create an economy on fragile foundations which will see growth and business investment revised down year on year during this Parliament.
“As always the North-East will bear the brunt of these announcements with a lack of investment directed to our region, whilst more money goes to London and the South-East with the go-ahead for Crossrail 2 not even HS3 is planned to reach us only going as far as Leeds, meaning little or no infrastructure investment in our region for our road and rail network.
“This Budget should have been about creating a 21st century economy which allows high-tech industries to flourish with a highly-skilled workforce earning in a high-wage economy. Yet, the Chancellor has continued down his path of failure and ignored the many important issues which would ensure regions like ours can deliver the employment and investment we desperately need to prosper.”
Sharon Hodgson with Unipres Staff, Gatsby Project team; George Ritchie, Chair of the North East Apprenticeship Ambassador Network and Associate Director PX group and pupils and staff from Link School and Biddick Academy - 14th March 2016
Image Copyright: Unipres 2016.
For National Apprenticeship Week 2016, Sharon was invited to Unipres in Sunderland to welcome the beginning of the week, meet with apprentices and have a tour of the Unipres factory. In her speech, Sharon spoke about the importance of apprenticeships to helping young people reach their potential in life and recognised the work done by Unipres in Sunderland over their 27 years based in the City to support the local economy and workforce.
You can read Sharon's speech here below:
Thank you for inviting me to join you for today’s launch of National Apprenticeships Week celebrations here at Unipres.
It is wonderful that National Apprenticeship Week, which started in 2008, is now in its ninth year where we continue to showcase the positive impact apprentices have on our economy, whilst celebrating the tens of thousands who are currently developing their skills, expertise and knowledge through an apprenticeship, may it be in nuclear technology, fashion design, or of course, car manufacturing.
After the success of last year’s celebrations which saw 600 events held right across the country and businesses pledging to increase apprenticeship numbers by 23,000, I hope this year’s events will build on those achievements ensuring we reaffirm our commitment to apprenticeships as a vehicle to achieve great success in life.
This year’s theme for National Apprenticeships Week is all about rising to the top and recognising the importance an apprenticeship can have on an individual achieving their potential, by learning and earning at the same time.
This is something which is at the very heart of the business ethos of Unipres, who for the last 26 years, have been an important employer here on Wearside, whilst developing a close relationship with Nissan to whom they supply parts for the cars manufactured just up the road.
Unipres’ clear commitment to Sunderland’s local workforce is shown through their continued investment into training local people, providing sustainable and high-quality job opportunities and nurturing a sense of pride in the work that goes on here in Sunderland.
In recent years Unipres has invested heavily into their factory here on Wearside with capital investment of over £40 million between 2012 and 2013 in preparation for the increased production at Nissan, and more recently Renault.
This led to an additional investment of nearly £13 million to install two new presses – which went live just before Christmas and I hope we will get to see them in action later this morning – this created 22 additional new jobs at the factory to work on the production of supplies for both Nissan and Honda’s assembly plant in Swindon, along with exporting to international markets including mainland Europe and Russia.
Parallel to all of this investment into the future of the business, there has been just as much investment into the future of the workforce where over the last year there has been a doubling in the number of apprentices based at the factory.
In total, Unipres now has over 60 apprentices who are studying for their qualifications in engineering, electrical engineering and die and tool-making whilst training hands-on here in order to reinforce what they learn in the classroom.
For any of those young men or women here today, I wish you all the very best with your studies and future career success here at Unipres.
But as the leadership here know the work to inspire the next generation coming into the workforce starts way before they join the business as an apprentice. That is why Unipres has supported an excellent initiative, called Industrial Cadets, which aims to spark the imagination and minds of young people about the career possibilities within engineering and the sometimes unknown career success that can come with starting a high-quality apprenticeship.
That is why it is wonderful that this year’s National Apprenticeship Week celebrations in the North-East have been launched today here at Unipres – showing appreciation of the leadership of Plant Director, John Cruddace, and the hard-work and dedication of everyone who works here.
This week is all about celebration and marking the importance of apprenticeships, and I wish all the success in the world to this year’s National Apprenticeship Week and hope that events like this inspire the young people attending to start an apprenticeship so they too can achieve their full potential and reach the top of their chosen career.