A bold step for the future

17th September 2013

THE Belfast Telegraph’s campaign to create 100 apprenticeships in 100 days is in full swing with businesses queuing up to find out how they can get involved.

Now we are in day 32 (FRI 29), and commitment to create apprenticeships has been given by companies large and small in a range of sectors.

In the telecoms sector, BT has pledged to create 13 apprenticeships. Rainbow Communications will create one.

And in utilities, NI Water is set to take on 10 new staff as apprentices, while also enabling 10 existing staff to ‘skill up’ by also taking part in the company’s apprenticeship scheme.

Support for our campaign and pledges to create apprenticeships have also come from hairdressers and IT firms, displaying the flexibility of the apprenticeship model as something which can be adapted to many sectors.There is no doubt that every job counts, so even if a company can only commit to one apprenticeship, we are still eager to hear about it.

Many business, celebrity and political heavyweights have also given their support to our campaign, including Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, who said:“This is an excellent initiative by the Belfast Telegraph to boost opportunities for young people in Northern Ireland.

“The benefits of apprenticeships to young people and their employers are huge. If you speak to employers who take on apprentices nearly all of them will speak in glowing terms about doing so.

“Their apprentices are hardworking, dedicated and they help businesses to grow. For young people, it opens the door to long-lasting and successful careers.”

Invest NI chief executive Alastair Hamilton — who himself began working life as an apprentice with BT — has also given his support to apprenticeships.

“Apprenticeships have a vital role to play in helping to develop a skilled and dynamic workforce to drive our economy forward.

“Whilst many businesses are often keen to recruit experienced employees and graduates, we are also increasingly seeing many businesses which are interested in recruiting school leavers, at both GCSE and A-level and taking them through tailored training programmes to meet their individual company aims, values and objectives.”

Lord Sugar, serial entrepreneur and uncompromising host of business reality TV show The Apprentice, has also commended us for the campaign.

But we are less than one-third of the way there and want all employers to consider taking on apprentices — and let us know when they do so. 

Your apprentice does not have to be new to your company — you can simply use an apprenticeship to improve the skills of a member of staff you already have.

Nor does your apprentice have to be a young person — the oldest recorded apprentice in Northern Ireland is thought to be in his eighties. 

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