A BOLD plan to create up to 100,000 North-East jobs and arm more young people with skills for the workplace has been unveiled.
The North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has published its economic blueprint which would see the area support more than one million jobs by 2024.
In addition, the plan commits the LEP, which promotes business growth in Durham, Tyne and Wear and Northumberland, to spend £4.7m on the design of a North-East Schools Challenge, and seeks Government support to forge an alliance between schools, businesses and local education authorities to tackle disparities in educational performance across the area.
It also proposes the establishment of a new North-East Development and Investment Fund which would give regional decision makers greater control over public funding pots, and act as a magnet for private investment.
The plan called More and Better Jobs: A Strategic Economic Plan for the North East builds on the recommendations of last year's Independent Economic Review chaired by Lord Andrew Adonis.
It sets out a target to create 100,000 new jobs in the next decade, equivalent to an 11 per cent increase in employment.
Paul Woolston, chairman of the North East LEP, said: "The North East Strategic Economic Plan sets out an ambitious vision for the area, but our recent economic performance tells us that it is entirely achievable.
"In recent years our businesses and people have outperformed national growth rates for output, productivity and employment. In just twelve months, nearly 20,000 additional jobs have been created.
"We will direct Government and European funding to areas where they will have greatest impact in creating and sustaining more and better jobs to grow our economy."
In total the plan seeks to invest £1.6bn of public and private funds to create jobs across six sectors: innovation; business support and access to finance; skills; employability and inclusion; economic assets and infrastructure; and transport and digital connectivity.
A combined authority, formed by seven North-East councils, including County Durham, will oversee the delivery of the plan.
Jonathan Walker, head of member relations at the NECC, said: "The plan is suitably ambitious for the area and covers many of the themes that our members would identify as vital for sustained economic growth.
"More and more firms consider connections between education and businesses to be one of the most significant factors for long-term success so we are particularly pleased to see the Schools Challenge highlighted.
"The North-East is delivering the strongest growth rates and productivity gains in the country at present, so we hope Government will recognise that investment here means backing some of the greatest economic potential in the UK."