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By VICTORIA LEGGETT, Education correspondent
Thursday, September 20, 2012
A campaign to give young people a first foot on the employment ladder by encouraging Norfolk businesses to take on apprentices will be launched today.
Apprenticeships Norfolk has been created by the county council and is backed by £3.5m of public funding.
It aims to highlight the positive impact the schemes can have on the prospects of both local businesses and the county’s young people.
Ann Steward, the authority’s cabinet member for economic development, said: “Norfolk County Council is investing a great deal in a number of apprenticeships schemes so we are able to target as many young people as possible. We believe apprenticeships are a very practical option and are a win-win for young people and businesses.”
The latest statistics from the department for education showed there were 84,000 people in the East of England aged 18 to 24 deemed NEET – not in education, employment or training – in the second three months of this year. Although representing a drop of around 15,000 from the same period in 2011, it is still 23,000 higher than 10 years ago.
By investing in apprenticeships, the county council hopes to tackle that problem.
Alison Thomas, cabinet member for children’s services, said: “Norfolk young people seeking employment face many barriers in the current climate and we hope that this significant investment will help them take their first step into employment. We are very excited to see this begin to make a difference to the lives of young people in Norfolk.”
Apprenticeships Norfolk will help point young people in the right direction and get them talking to apprenticeship providers.
A previously-announced £3.5m of funding will see up to 400 apprenticeships launched at the county’s small and medium sized businesses over the next two years.
The money – which is in addition to the £1.1m used to create 100 apprenticeships at county council-owned Norse – will help to subsidise wages and is aimed at SMEs who have not previously taken on apprentices. There will be a particular focus on the growing sectors of engineering, energy, advanced manufacturing, hospitality and tourism, creative industries, health and social care, and agriculture, food and drink.
Following a recent call to businesses interested in the scheme, Culture Works East in Norwich got in touch with the county council. Its director Elli Chapman said: “I started my career by being mentored and learning on the job after leaving school at an early age with very few qualifications. This was definitely the best route for me as it was a way of learning and earning at the same time.
“I want to pass this valuable experience on to potential apprentices within my own organisation.”
The fund is being administered by three training providers, with the College of West Anglia being supported by City College Norwich and Broadland District Council Training Services.
Apprenticeships Norfolk will also involve a county-wide marketing programme.
Today’s launch, at The Forum in Norwich, will coincide with an Apprenticeships Norfolk Open Day, from 9am to 5pm, where young people will be able to find out more about the scheme and speak to employers already offering apprenticeships.
For more information, go to www.norfolk.gov.uk/apprenticeships or call 0344 800 8024.
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