The Training for Growth pilot aims to create a comprehensive framework to boost the number of technical apprenticeships in Sunderland.

The Training for Growth pilot is an innovative partnership between the North East Automotive Alliance (NEAA) and Education Partnership North East (EPNE). The project is supported by the Government’s UK Shared Prosperity Fund Programme, managed in Sunderland by Sunderland City Council on behalf of the Sunderland Partnership.

Training for Growth, which will run until March 2025, will support the first year of a pilot programme which will increase Level 3 technical apprenticeship starts in advanced manufacturing businesses in Sunderland.

Why the need?

Local technical skills availability represents a significant risk to business productivity and is a potential constraint to future growth.

This initiative is designed to address the future investment needs of the area by enhancing the skill levels of the local workforce. Through this pilot, residents will gain greater access to advanced apprenticeship programmes, which in turn will lead to higher qualifications, better job prospects, and increased wages. This systemic approach is intended to foster sustainable economic growth and improve the overall quality of life in the community.

This pilot is directly aligned with the priorities outlined in the North East Local Skills Improvement Plan (NELSIP) and has been shaped by comprehensive analyses conducted over several years by local stakeholders.

The opportunity

The Training for Growth pilot brings together businesses, employer bodies, and training providers to address the critical shortage of technical skills in Sunderland and the wider North East region, particularly within the advanced manufacturing sector and net-zero technologies.

The pilot will provide financial support to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Sunderland to enable them to take on technical apprenticeships (Level 3) as part of the September 2024 intake. This support will contribute to the additional costs that employers will incur in the first year of the programme.

What’s on offer

Increasing Level 3 technical apprentices:

  • Assist a network of SMEs in the Sunderland region to recruit Level 3 technical apprentices (e.g. engineering, electrical, mechanical, data science).
  • Support up to 21 new apprentice positions across the Sunderland local authority area.
  • Facilitate a supply of potential apprentice candidates for SMEs to evaluate.
  • Deliver apprenticeship training using EPNE or another suitable local training provider.
  • Provide UKSPF funding support to contribute to the additional costs that employers will incur in the first year of the apprenticeship programme.
  • Increase the supply of Level 3+ technical skills to support further investment and growth in Sunderland and the wider North East region.

The UK Shared Prosperity Fund provides £2.6 billion of funding for local investment by March 2025. The Fund aims to improve pride in place and increase life chances across the UK investing in communities and place, supporting local business, and people and skills. For more information, visit: UK Shared Prosperity Fund: prospectus


If you’re a Sunderland-based SME, get in touch with the NEAA team to discuss how we can support your apprentice needs now:

T: 0191 516 4400

You can also fill in an expression of interest form here