Trades union chiefs have welcomed BAE Systems’ move to take on a record 568 apprentices in the New Year.
Lynn Collins, TUC north west regional secretary, said in her New Year message: “Getting our young people into decent work will be the biggest long term boost to the North West Economy.
“Youth unemployment remains a huge problem in the region, and it’s vital we don’t leave this generation of young people behind.
“We want to work with employers to ensure we create real opportunities for young people to work and learn, and to create real jobs for them to go to.”
Just under half of BAE’s apprentices will work at its shipyard in Barrow-in-Furness. A further 94 will work on military aircraft design and production in Warton and Samlesbury.
Ms Collins said wages and jobs would remain the two big barriers to recovery in the North West in 2014. She said more needed to be done to get the region back on track – including tackling the living standards crisis.
In the region, wages have failed to rise in line with inflation for five years now and any increased spending that has happened has come from people eating into family savings.
She said: “The statistics show that Britain’s economic recovery is real but that is not how it feels here in the North West.
“This is because the government has failed to deliver a growth strategy based on rebalancing the economy through exports and investment.
“Instead growth is coming from rising house prices and people running down their savings.
“And while jobs growth is welcome, too many jobs are insecure and combine the three lows: low skill, low productivity and low pay.”