A CAMPAIGN to encourage more companies to take on apprentices has got off to a flying start. The Journal has linked up with the National Apprenticeship Service to help firms find the staff they need to grow and help those without a job make a new start.
And in its first week 100 Days: The Apprenticeship Challenge has seen more than 50 businesses sign up new apprenticeships, either of existing staff or with new recruits.
Alan Wallace, head of employer accounts for the NAS, said he was delighted so many had taken up the challenge to increase apprenticeships so quickly in the 100-day campaign.
“Apprenticeships bring considerable value to employers, individuals and the economy as a whole.
“In an increasingly competitive world, no business can afford not to invest in training and apprenticeships are one of the very best and most cost-effective ways for employers to grow their own talent.
“That is why NAS is driving the 100 Day Apprenticeship Challenge, working alongside the other campaign partners to ensure that more North East organisations across all sectors and industries can have the opportunity to enjoy the business benefits that employing apprentices can bring.”
The region has the worst unemployment levels in the UK and a high proportion of young people without jobs so the campaign is particularly timely. Last year The Journal and its sister paper the Evening Gazette worked with NAS to get 100 firms to take on 100 apprentices in 100 days.
Within a few weeks it was so successful we had to increase the target to 500. And when the 100 days were up we were able to report 1,355 new apprenticeships had been created. We hope the campaign will be a big success.
To find out more about the 100 Days Apprenticeship Challenge, recruiting apprentices, call 08000 150 600, or visit www.apprenticeships.org.uk.
Hopefuls begin a new chapter
A TRAINING provider has launched the region’s first bookkeeping apprenticeship in response to demand from small firms.
Gateshead-based Access Training is now offering a Level 2 certificate in bookkeeping after the National Apprenticeship Service reported local firms were finding it difficult to recruit and train suitable bookkeepers.
The first North East businesses to take advantage of the new apprenticeship framework are Newcastle firm Ariston Accountants, which employs apprentice bookkeeper James Moore, 19, from Durham, and North Shields firm Cormeton Electronics, which employs 18-year-old Sarah Mullen, from Jarrow.
Mehriban Kaybaki, who is self-employed, is also studying the qualification to enable her to run her own business.
Every business is required by law to ‘keep books’. The apprentices are learning the skills to accurately record business transactions using both manual and computerised techniques.
As fully qualified bookkeepers they will facilitate the preparation of high-quality annual statements and reports.
Daud Mohammed, practice manager at Ariston Accountants, said: "We wanted an apprentice who could be trained to handle all our needs.
"Access Training introduced us to our apprentice James and we have been really pleased so far. He has picked up the basics very quickly and is enthusiastic and keen to learn. He has already made improvements to our existing bookkeeping systems."
Steven Beavis, skills adviser at Access Training, said: "We launched this course because clearly the demand for it was there. And for young people an apprenticeship in bookkeeping can open many doors – you could work for virtually any type of company in any sector."
Partnership is paying off
A HOUSING company is working well with a training group to improve the skills of its staff.
Demi-Leigh Reid started her intermediate apprenticeship in business and administration in August 2010 with Middlesbrough-based Fabrick Housing Group in its accounts payable and receivable team.
Working with Mouchel Training Centre, she achieved NVQ level 2 business and administration and passed her technical certificate exam with flying colours.
Fabrick’s accounts payable and receivable manager Anne Allison was so pleased with her progress that she employed her as an advanced apprentice to gain further experience and complete qualifications at level 3.
In March, Demi-Leigh was appointed to a full-time vacancy that arose at Fabrick.
She said: "I was so pleased to be employed by Fabrick after achieving my level 2 and 3 apprenticeship training qualifications."
This opened up a vacancy for Fabrick to take on another apprentice. The successful applicant was Kirsty Lal. She initially completed her level 1 NVQ business administration as part of a pre-apprenticeship course with Middlesbrough Council’s Community Learning Service (MCLS).
She also passed exams in functional maths, English and ICT with MCLS, which stood her in good stead when applying for an apprenticeship with Mouchel.
Kirsty has now progressed to level 2 NVQ, gaining valuable experience with Mouchel’s revenues and benefits team in the council’s taxation section.
To gain additional skills, she is moving to Fabrick this month to join Anne Allison’s team. Kirsty hopes eventually to follow in Demi- Leigh’s footsteps and progress to an advanced apprenticeship.