THE Journal’s campaign to create 500 apprentices in 100 days is well on the way to hitting its target, with 424 trainees already signed up at the half-way point.
The campaign, launched in association with the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) and supported by the North East Chamber of Commerce (NECC), broke its previous target of 100 apprentices in under three weeks and is now within striking distance of its new target, with seven weeks left to go.
The success of the campaign illustrates how much importance the region’s employers are placing on the programme as a way of supporting the recovery of the economy as well as ensuring that important skills are not lost along the way.
John Wayman, regional director for NAS, said: “To have achieved 424 apprenticeships against our 500 target with seven weeks still to go is a fantastic achievement.
“We have been overwhelmed by the level of support for the campaign by North East businesses and would like to sincerely thank every employer who has committed to recruit an apprentice.
“As well as benefiting young people by offering them life-changing career opportunities, apprenticeships also bring many proven benefits to businesses including increased productivity, improved competitiveness and a committed, highly skilled workforce.
“They are an extremely cost effective way of developing staff and offer a significant return on investment, and the level of employer support for the campaign from employers of all sizes and from all sectors is testament to this.
“We want the momentum and enthusiasm for the campaign to continue and would like to encourage more employers to get involved.”
One employer that has taken on two apprentices as part of the campaign is the Astley Arms pub in Seaton Sluice, Whitley Bay.
The pub has recruited Rebecca Fox, 19, as a food and beverage supervisor and Dawn Duggen, 22, as food and beverage assistant, with Babcock acting as training provider. The venue currently employs a total of eight apprentices and is a big supporter of the programme.
Laura Howe, general manager at the pub, said: “Starting as an apprentice myself, I appreciate how useful an apprenticeship can be.
“A lot of people that leave education early on still want to follow some form of learning while earning a wage. An apprenticeship can provide the perfect solution.
“The programme can be equally beneficial from an employer’s perspective. I had a lot of staff leave the pub last year, so increasing our number of apprentices was a great way of replacing them.”
Patricia Wilkinson, director of training and skills development at NECC, said: “The campaign has been an overwhelming success.
“Apprenticeships are a fantastic way of addressing key business needs, and recruiting a highly skilled workforce that can be moulded to suit the individual needs of businesses.”