With employment among young people at high levels, locally-based Pacifica Group had a clear message for MP Kevan Jones when he visited this week – help us get more apprentices. The fast-growing company – well-known for its 0800 Repair domestic appliance repair service – has taken on 11 apprentices in the last 11 months, but sees a shortage of qualified appliance engineers as a major business risk.
Pacifica won a national award last year for the best medium employer of the year in the 2010 North East Celebration of Learning and Skills Success (CLASS) Awards.
Yet the Chester-le-Street based company is appealing to the Government to help communicate to young people that engineering is a good career – and to provide more help to businesses taking on apprentices.
The North Durham MP met four of Pacifica Group’s apprentices when he visited their offices on 29 November, and pledged to put Pacifica Group Managing Director, Kevin Brown in touch with John Hayes MP, Minister of State for Further Education, Skills and Lifelong Learning, to see if the Government can do more to help.
Mr Brown said: “Apprenticeships are the best way for our business to grow and play an integral part in the huge expansion we have planned for our business.”
Pacifica aims to increase its turnover from £12.5m to £25 million in the next four to five years.
Pacifica Group recently won the Journal/Ward Hadaway award for being the fastest growing company in the North East, and its distinctive yellow and black 0800 Repair vans, complete with a giant screwdriver on the roof, are a familiar sight in many areas.
“Because there is a shortage of skills in the appliance engineering field, bringing on our own apprentices will be crucial part of our growth.
“However, although we and other companies need to recruit more young people, the costs of funding the young people from 16 to 18 before they are fully trained can be a struggle – we all need more support.
“It’s well worth the Government considering extra measures. Apprenticeships are good for us and good for the trainees.
“They create a clear career path that sees successful youngsters eventually progress in a full time role – many of our senior managers have worked their way up from entry level to top positions.
“We would like to develop the first unique City & Guilds NVQ3 in white goods appliance engineering – no course exists at present, and it could create new opportunities for young people and create jobs.”
MP Kevan Jones commented: “This national company which has its headquarters in Chester Le St has so much to be proud of, in terms of its rapid business growth and success in the appliance repairs market.
“However, like so many many other companies, its faces major challenges in the recruitment of apprentices so I am hoping to find the firm the right help and support to help them grow.”