A COUNCIL is spear-heading an initiative to build links between secondary schools and businesses to combat a skills shortage in rural areas.

The authority’s leader, Councillor Linda Cowling, said it was working with the four secondary schools in its area and high-tech companies in the area. “There are fantastic opportunities in Ryedale for young people and we want to keep the younger generation here.

There has been an attitude among teachers of keeping young people in education and encouraging them to go to university but we are persuading them that apprenticeships are key to Ryedale’s economy. We especially want to see our young people go into engineering.”

AlreadyThe council has brought a number of leading businesses in the technology world and school leaders together. “The response has been excellent,” she said.

A recent skills summit involving businesses and educationalists had proved a big success and the council was earmarking funds to develop apprenticeship schemes and training. Mentors were being developed as more businesses were taking on students on work experience opportunities.

The council’s chief executive, Janet Waggott, said many Ryedale businesses, which were recognised as world leaders,were concerned that they were having to bring skilled workers into the district from elsewhere in the country because of a shortage of trained staff locally.