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Celebrations as apprentices graduate

More than 120 successful apprentices from across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent celebrated with their friends, family and employers at a graduation event on July 19.

This is the third year that the county has staged an apprentice graduation ceremony at Stafford’s County Showground. The two previous events were attended by a total of 280 apprentices, who had achieved qualifications ranging from Level 3 to Level 6, equivalent to degree standard.

And this year’s graduates were told they would be the backbone of the region’s increasingly successful economy in future.

Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership chairman David Frost CBE told them:

“This is an enormously successful area with a successful LEP which has helped to create 35,000 new jobs over the past five years.

“This is a place where employers want to be and where increasingly we are seen to have a global footprint, thanks to firms such as JCB and JLR. It will continue to grow because of our great location and because of the skills base we are developing. For companies to succeed they need skilled and enthusiastic employees who want to learn and to grow. That is why this area is going to thrive and prosper.

“Apprenticeships are so important – it’s about learning and earning at the same time and reaching your full potential.”

Graduation certificates were presented by Staffordshire University vice chancellor Professor Liz Barnes  and Cllr Philip White, Staffordshire County Council’s cabinet support member for learning and employability.

Professor Barnes told the graduates:

“Education is still a good investment because it transforms lives and opens up opportunities.”

Cllr White said:

“It was wonderful to be able to celebrate with our apprentices at the graduation ceremony and recognise Staffordshire’s success in training the highly skilled individuals employers tell us they need to help grow their businesses.

“This success is a testament to the close working relationships between our businesses, education providers and public sector in Staffordshire as well as the tremendous hard work and ability of our apprentices themselves”.

“Apprenticeships continue to be key to our plans to bring growth and prosperity to Staffordshire and it’s great to see the number of apprenticeships continuing to grow, especially higher level apprenticeships.  They are a great option for people of all ages looking for a route into an incredibly diverse range of careers and are a highly effective way to improve your employability and earning potential.  Employers also benefit hugely from employing apprentices, as it is proven that they improve productivity, profitability and creativity in organisations that employ them.”

Cllr Abi Brown, cabinet member for finance and partnerships at Stoke-on-Trent City Council, said:

“Apprenticeships are a fantastic opportunity for young people to get themselves on the career ladder. We see investment in apprenticeship programmes as both a great way of supporting the local community and growing our future talent.”

The graduation event is sponsored by local businesses KMF Metals and Leoni Wiring Systems, along with Newcastle-under-Lyme College, Staffordshire University, Staffordshire County Council and Stoke-on-Trent City Council.

More specialised and highly-skilled apprenticeships are being offered each year, giving individuals the chance to continue their professional development and fully realise their potential, up to Higher Apprenticeships. These are available at a range of levels, from the equivalent of a foundation degree to a Bachelor’s degree and even Master’s degree level in some sectors.