North East firm selected by David Cameron as Apprenticeship Trailblazer

Houghton-le-Spring company The Test Factory is helping the Prime Minister boost the intake of apprentices across the country

Ben Birchall/PA Wire Prime Minister David Cameron
Prime Minister David Cameron

A North East-based company is among the firms leading the way with the Government’s new apprenticeship programme.

Online assessment business The Test Factory will be helping David Cameron in his bid to boost the intake of apprentices across the country as a named Apprenticeship Trailblazer in Digital Industries.

Managing director Kevin Beales was invited to meet the Prime Minister at the launch event of the Apprenticeships Implementation Plan and Trailblazers at Mini’s car plant in Oxford.

The Test Factory will join companies including Accenture, CapGemini, Cisco and IBM as a Trailblazer and the group will develop new apprenticeship standards.

Kevin said: “We are delighted to have been invited to be a Trailblazer. We are passionate about the apprentice scheme and are proud to have made a commitment to it.

“We’ve had a successful scheme running at The Test Factory for the past two years and we currently have eight apprentices within the business, in a variety of roles including as part of our client services team.”

The company, which delivers bespoke online assessments for blue-chip companies including Microsoft, Cambridge University Press, and the BBC, has recently celebrated its fifth birthday at Rainton Bridge South Business Park, in County Durham’s Houghton-le-Spring. It has 40 staff, spread across offices in the North East, London and the US.

Skills Minister Matthew Hancock said: “I am very pleased that The Test Factory has chosen to be at the forefront of our apprenticeship reforms.

“This is great opportunity to be a trailblazer, building on existing successes to lay the foundations for rigorous and easily understood apprenticeships that will help Britain compete in the global race.

“Our aim is that the new apprenticeships will focus squarely on rigorous training for learners and simplicity of use for large and small employers, who will be in the driving seat of apprenticeships in future.

“This will mean that our apprenticeship system will respond better to the needs of the modern economy.”

The Test Factory apprentice, Masuma Begum, said: “I am thoroughly enjoying my work at The Test Factory.

“I think the apprenticeship scheme has given me a great opportunity to kick start my career by gaining valuable experience in a real work environment.”

The coalition has announced a number of measures this month to encourage young people to choose an apprenticeship.


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