ABOUT 700 North-East jobs could be created in a £7m scheme.
Bosses say they hope to create 700 manufacturing, engineering, IT and process sector posts across the Tees Valley by 2015.
The jobs will be backed by a 12-month wage subsidy of up to 50 per cent.
The project, known as the Tees Valley jobs and skills investment scheme, has already helped deliver 119 jobs, including 27 graduate posts and 60 apprentices in design engineering and welding work, from 43 applications worth £724,793 in subsidy grants.
Bosses added there are no limits to how many workers a company can employ as long as posts can be sustained for at least two years.
Stephen Catchpole, TVU managing director, said: “This is very important for us and we still have just over £6.25m available.
“This is set to have a huge impact on the business community in the Tees Valley and we want more companies to come forward.
“Having 119 is a good start and a good chunk of the 700, but we need more firms to apply.
"It’s vital we are able to support businesses in the area to ensure we can sustain and grow the economy and importantly continue to invest in the workforce."
Laura Woods, director of academic enterprise at Teesside University, said the scheme would help keep talented workers in the region.
She added: “This scheme is directly helping businesses to grow, and will deliver enormous benefits to companies, graduates and apprentices.
“Creating the right opportunities for graduate employment is a major priority, so it’s excellent to see this initiative on track for real success.”
The scheme is expected to compliment The Northern Echo's growing Foundation for Jobs campaign, which has worked with 2,700 young people aged between ten and 24.
The award-winning project, which is run alongside Darlington Borough Council and the Darlington Partnership of public and private sector organisations, works with youngsters to give them greater insight into industry and has received praise from the Duke of York, Prince Andrew.