Supporting young people into jobs and training

Last week was National Apprenticeship Week and at the same time we saw the publication of a government report into youth unemployment. This showed encouraging news for Staffordshire as youth unemployment is still well below the national and regional averages and has been falling since 2010.

Supporting young people into jobs and training has always been a top priority for us and we’re making some good progress in the vital work of making sure we have a skilled workforce to support our future growth. We recognise that Apprenticeships are one of the things that are vital in bringing growth and prosperity to Staffordshire and it’s encouraging to see that we have increased the number of apprenticeships in the county by over 35% over the last four years. Our own apprenticeship scheme, which has seen us ranked in the top hundred UK employers has also taken on around 550 apprentices since 2009. I also know from my work as a business Governor at South Staffordshire College that over 300 employers have places involved with the College.

Apprenticeships give employers a great opportunity to grow their own talented and skilled workforce, while allowing young people to gain valuable skills and experience. I was pleased to see that twelve of the county’s apprentices were celebrated for their contribution to businesses at our annual Local Enterprise Partnership Apprenticeship Recognition Awards.

The creation of the Apprenticeship Ambassador Network is another exciting initiative that will help us to continue increasing the number of apprenticeships. Chief Executives, training staff, and former apprentices from across the county have taken on the role of Ambassadors to help promote the benefits that apprenticeships bring to businesses and organisations. Our Business and Apprenticeship Helpline on 0300 111 8002 is also giving local firms the advice they need to take on an apprentice.

Our Let’s Talk Jobs campaign which launched last year also continues to increase awareness amongst young people; giving them the best source of impartial advice to help kick-start their careers.

The Engineering Hub was also launched last week, which will be encouraging small and medium-sized companies in the manufacturing and engineering sector to join and help match up engineering apprentices with suitable placements. Larger companies such as JCB and Alstom already take on apprentices. Now more of our smaller businesses are realising the real advantages they stand to gain by taking on an apprentice and at the same time giving someone a great start in their career. Stafford Works, MP Jeremy Lefroy’s charity is behind the new hub which will play an integral part in increasing skills and thereby having real long-term benefits for the county.

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