To mark National Apprenticeship Week campaigners and businesses across Northamptonshire have joined together to make the case for apprenticeships to young people looking to take their first steps into the world of work.
From engineering and accounting to hair dressing or software developing, the range of apprenticeships currently on offer is extremely varied, yet many businesses struggle to fill vacancies.
If we can harness them at the right age they will be a invaluable part of the business.Kevin Brown, High-Force group managing director
The Northamptonshire Enterprise Partnership (NEP) has launched its Bright Futures public relations campaign to raise awareness about the variety of opportunities available. It has also published a survey which indicated a high level of support for apprentices among the county’s businesses.
Jo Lappin, chief executive of NEP, said: “Our Bright Futures campaign is about making sure young people understand the open availability of apprenticeships to them and are informed about making the decision right for them.
“For some young people, university is the right choice. For others apprenticeships are one other.
“I think the challenge we face uniquely in the county is the burgeoning labour market. We have very high levels of jobs and employment. But I think businesses stand to gain their future work force.”
One Daventry firm which is supporting the initiative is High-force, a manufacturer of hydraulic tools. Kevin Brown, group managing director, said his firm was keen to take on new apprentices because the investment in training was well worth the reward. He said: “Working with the University Technical College we are looking at doing some summer work here.
“If we can harness them at the right age they will be a invaluable part of the business. We are a pretty international company and we have many people working overseas who once worked in Daventry. Some of them have been in this company for 20 to 30 years, even if it is not in the same role or location.
“What we can offer is a complete sweep here from product design to packaging. Apprentices could see every step to getting our products out there.”
Northampton College is also keen to fill more than 40 vacancies for apprenticeships in business administration and customer service with places also available in engineering, warehousing, hospitality, hairdressing and childcare.
James Whybrow, assistant principal at Northampton College said: “There has never been a better time to start an apprenticeship. Employers have never been more receptive to the concept of growing their own talent by developing a motivated, skilled and qualified workforce.
“We currently have more vacancies than we can fill with new opportunities coming in every day. Significant numbers of jobs are available in administration and customer services across a range of sectors. The skills that young people will acquire through an apprenticeship in these areas are highly transferable.”
Eighteen-year-old Amber Sutherland completed her GCSEs at Parker E-Act Academy and started a apprenticeship in business administration at Daventry District Council in January.
She said:“I found the vacancy on the National Apprenticeship website and applied. I came in for an interview and got a phone call to say I had been successful. Northampton College gave me work to complete during the apprenticeship so I can gain the Business Administration qualification, but it’s mostly on-the-job training. I’m really enjoying it. It’s a very interesting and varied role and I’m not just tied to a desk. I’ve been out on site inspections and carried out parking surveys. I’m also compiling a business directory for companies across Daventry district.
“Most of my friends are at college but I much prefer to learn through doing the job, rather than by sitting in a classroom. I’m getting paid, which helps too of course!
“I’m still not exactly sure what I want to do in my career but this is giving me a great introduction to work with the added bonus of a qualification at the end of it.”
Geoff Bratt is managing director of Atlantechs Ltd, a family-owned business based in Weedon which specialises in manufacturing seats for commercial vehicles and classic car restorations.
He said many of his best workers are past pensionable age: “We need people here that are able to work from the beginning to the finish of production, and those skills are disappearing. The problem is that young people generally don’t have the wherewithal to carry out these tasks without a lot of training.
“We are looking for people that are good sewers, trimmers and car body builders, but finding people these days who can saw in a straight line is a challenge.”
The firm is training up two apprentices with another due to start in September. Mr Bratt said: “Our two guys are really, really, good, but it took us a long time to find them.”
Today (Thursday) two events are taking place to showcase the opportunities available. There will be job fair at Daventry Leisure Centre in Lodge Road from 1pm to 4pm and an Apprenticeship Roadshow at the iCon centre from 6pm with presentations from 7pm to 8.15pm and refreshments and networking from 8.15pm to 9pm