Paul champions young jobseekers.
AN EXPERT from the North East has flown to Hong Kong to urge employers to adopt UK-style apprenticeships in an effort to curb the Chinese region's chronic youth unemployment problem.
Paul Champion, managing director of the North East Apprenticeship Company, has been invited by the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and the British Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong to provide advice to local business leaders, government officials, vocational and training councils.
Hong Kong is blighted by one of the highest levels of youth unemployment in Asia Pacific - 60% of the thousands of people out of work are aged between 15 and 29 - hampering economic growth and the development of the next generation of skilled workers and trades people.
Organisations like the British Chamber of Commerce recognise the scale of the problem and are looking to the UK, where the re-emergence of apprenticeships is being seen as vital in supporting the training needs of employers while equipping young people with the skills required for a career.
Paul, who is regarded as an expert on youth employment, will explain how the NEAC, which is a not-for-profit organisation, is working towards placing more than 400 apprentices across the North East region annually through partnerships between young people and employers. Drawing on his own experience, he will advise employers and those involved in training throughout Hong Kong to remove any barriers that might have discouraged them from hiring.
"I will be encouraging people to think about how they engage with young people and look at the benefits of apprenticeships to get the best out of them, many of whom I am sure possess the talent, enthusiasm and willingness to learn if the right path is available to them.
"Equally the message to the unemployed youth of Hong Kong will be to look at the benefits that can be gained from participating in an organised training programme.
"Apprenticeships provide a sense of identity and belonging as well as equipping people with the confidence and important skills to ensure they play a full role in both the company they work for and wider society."
Christopher Hammerbeck, executive director of The British Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong said: "Unemployment lies at the very heart of a disconnected younger element in our community, so we need to act fast with innovative solutions to tackle the problem.
"Paul has been involved in projects which have had a great deal of success in tackling unemployment, so his expertise will be invaluable in helping us to move forward." The North East Apprenticeship Company has a regional brief to reduce youth unemployment, and with the backing of employers, regional business bodies like the CBI and the Federation of Small Business and the TUC, has the expertise to tackle the skills gap and create new apprentice jobs, particularly among small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
As well as handling the recruitment and selection of people, it provides a human resources function for all the apprentices and organises their training through locally-based providers.
ADVICE - Paul Champion