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High profile North East businessman Jeremy Middleton has told Insider the region needs to build the skills to utilise private sector growth.

The North East Local Enterprise Partnership (NE LEP) board member also said 2014 was a ‘make it happen year’, as the body applies for more capital to improve access to finance for businesses.

Action from the NE LEP comes after recommendations were outlined in North East Independent Economic Review conducted by Lord Adonis in April 2013.

Middleton said: “This is a year for implementing the economic review, which clearly identified that the North East needs to create more and better jobs and the way to do that was to set out a blueprint.

“At the top of that list is to improve skills, top up our level of apprenticeships and improve education.

“We need to make sure there’s more access to finance for small businesses, particularly by securing another major programme for public and private venture capital.”

The entrepreneur behind investment company Middleton Enterprises and co-founder of FTSE 250 company HomeServe has been a member of the NE LEP since 2011.

He added: “In the North East, an issue is growing the private sector. We’ve been depending on the public sector for too long. The private sector is growing now, but what we need is the skilled people to make the most of the growth.

“We’ve got booming manufacturing, oil and gas and automotive industry, with train manufacturing also coming in.”

Middleton also told Insider that the NE LEP was focusing on finance, including bidding for a stake in the Single Local Growth Fund. “We are writing a pitch to try and secure funds, which is what we want to see delivered. We also need to get our next five year programme of our European fund.

“We need to talk with one voice, not seven, so we are also supporting the combined local authority which needs to go through.

“We are actively endorsing all sorts of Regional Growth Fund applications and our job is to encourage people to apply to get the biggest slice of the cake as possible for North East.”

Source: insider

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