Firms in the North East are being prevented from expanding to their full potential because of a lack of manufacturing and engineering skills, a top business leader has said.
James Ramsbotham, chief executive of the North East Chamber of Commerce (NECC), claimed that this is the news he hears from small and medium business owners, desperate to expand, on a near-daily basis.
According to nebusiness.co.uk, Ramsbotham went on to claim that the region as a whole is in fact suffering from a "double tragedy", given its industrial and engineering heritage, coupled with record levels of youth unemployment.
The executive was also critical of the rhetoric made by Chancellor George Osborne, who is desperately calling on firms to double the value of their UK export market by 2020.
"It is no good the Chancellor just making these statements; we need the support with infrastructure and real tangible support," Ramsbotham told members of the NECC at its annual meeting in Durham.
His colleague, NECC president John Mowbray, agreed, adding that the fate of engineers and manufacturing workers in the North East is being decided by governmental action elsewhere.
"On one hand we boast all the best bits of the economy - we thrive in manufacturing and engineering, particularly in automotive and the oil and gas sectors, and remain the only region with a positive balance of trade in exports.
"However, we also have a disproportionate over-reliance on the public sector and have been hit incredibly hard by the government's austerity purge," he said, quoted thenorthernecho.co.uk.