Three Staffordshire young apprentice ambassadors are off to the House of Commons next week as part of National Apprenticeship Week.
The young people working at Staffordshire Engineering firm KMF and Painsley Catholic College have been invited by MP Robert Halfron, Minister for Apprenticeships to share their experiences in promoting apprenticeships as a great career option.
The visit coincides with National Apprenticeship Week from 6 to 12 March, the annual celebration of apprentices, now in its tenth year.
Later in the week, the Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Apprenticeship Recognition Awards will also be recognising the contribution that apprentices make to businesses while the Apprenticeship Graduation ceremony in the summer will celebrate the achievements of over 150 apprentices.
Increasing the number of apprentices in Staffordshire remains a priority for the county and last year over 9,420 people started an apprenticeship.
Ben Adams, Cabinet Member for Learning and Skills at Staffordshire county council explained that apprenticeships were key to growing the Staffordshire economy and huge progress had already been made in increasing the number of opportunities over the past ten years.
“It’s wonderful to see our apprentice ambassadors down in London posing questions and sharing their experiences with Ministers and encouraging more employers to take on an apprentice. Lots of our local businesses are already recognising the unique contribution that younger workers can make to their business but we would like to see even more employers taking on an apprentice.
“Apprenticeships not only give young people the opportunity to learn a new skill, but give businesses the opportunity to teach them a trade that is specific to their business”
Callum Bradbury is an apprentice at Painsley Catholic College and an Apprenticeship Ambassador for the county. Callum said:
“We are all extremely privileged to be invited to speak in the House of Commons which will provide us with a national platform to help increase the awareness of apprenticeships for students/members of the public and businesses. It will also allow us to share our knowledge and experiences of how great apprenticeships really are.”
Hayden Williamson is a higher apprentice with KMF and explained he was excited and looking forward to meeting the Minister. Hayden said:
“Doing an apprenticeship has given me endless opportunities. Completing my advanced apprenticeship lead me onto my foundation degree in mechanical engineering which I am now doing at KMF. I really enjoyed doing my advanced apprenticeship and when I finished it I became school liaison coordinator which means I now promote apprenticeships in local schools. Apprenticeships are a great option and I’d definitely encourage young people to consider doing one.
Callum and Hayden will be accompanied by Jenny Conlon from KMF who is also Chair of the Employer Apprenticeship Ambassador Network.
“It’s a real honour to be invited to talk about apprenticeships with Mr Halfron and we’re all very excited. We’re doing some great work in raising the profile of apprenticeships here in Staffordshire and it’s good to be able to share this good practice with other areas.”
Staffordshire County Council’s own apprenticeship programme has also taken on over 600 apprentices since it started in 2009, and continues to work with businesses and education providers to help ensure young people have the right skills for the better paid, skilled jobs of the future.
A new engineering and automotive skills centre in Tamworth, Newcastle under Lyme and Stoke-on-Trent are all part of an advanced manufacturing and engineering hub to help boost skills, funded by the County Council and the Local Enterprise Partnership.
Businesses interested in taking on an apprentice can contact the Apprenticeship Helpline on 0300 111 8002 or by visiting www.stokestaffslep.org.uk. Parents looking for information on the range of career paths available to their children, including apprenticeships can visit www.staffordshire.gov.uk/brightfutures