One company that knows the value of apprenticeships is Express Engineering.
The North-east firm, which recently rescued a Stokesley engineering business from administration, is continuing its expansion with the addition of its 100th apprentice.
Andrew McKie, 17, has become the 99th person to don the overalls at Express Engineering after Phil Lees, who became the company’s first apprentice in 1974.
The appointment marks an impressive milestone in the company’s commitment to the North-east workforce.
Andrew, from North Shields, said: “I have always wanted a job like this. Ever since I was little I have had a keen interest in the way things work and I used to like taking things apart and fixing things. Being given the opportunity to learn my trade here has been fantastic.”
Andrew’s parents were still at junior school when Phil, 56, started his apprenticeship with Express.
He said: “I started out as a tool maker in what was essentially a large tin hut in Byker. There were only ten of us at the time and it has been incredible to witness the company expand to having two huge sites on the Team Valley and a third in Brazil.
Phil, who now works as a test and assembly engineer, added: “The reason for still being here after all these years would have to be the family environment.
“I’ve always felt respected and well looked after. Andrew is in good hands here and I’m sure he’ll be successful in what he wants to achieve.
“Maybe he’ll join the 75 of us who finished our apprenticeships and are still working for the company today.”
Managing director, Nigel Davison, said: “It has always been our ethos to provide high quality training to young people from our local communities. We welcome Andrew to the team. Maybe he will be around to welcome our 200th apprentice at some point in the future.”
A to Z of chances
The apprenticeship route provides opportunities across an A-Z of careers.
According to the National Apprenticeship Services there are more than 1,500 job roles covering 170 industries in sectors from engineering and education to nursing, graphic design and horticulture.
More than 100,000 employers in over 175,000 workplaces in England offer apprenticeships
Apprenticeships give you the opportunity to work for a real employer, earn a real salary and gain a real qualification whilst gaining valuable workplace skills and experience.
Anyone living in England, over 16-years-old and not in full-time education can apply to be an apprentice. All apprentices must receive the appropriate national minimum wage.
Employment will be for at least 30 hours per week. In cases where the learner cannot complete the full 30 hours, employment must be for more than 16 hours per week
Apprentices gain technical knowledge and practical experience for their immediate job and future career and recognised qualifications.
An average apprentices’ wage is around £200 per week. People with an advanced level apprenticeship earn on average more than £100,000 more than those without, over the course of their career.
David Way, chief executive at the National Apprenticeship Service, says: “Apprenticeships lead to life changing career opportunities with real progression and are available to people of all ages.”
Find out more at www.apprenticeships.org.uk