Norfolk bucks the trend for apprenticeship take up


Textiles - Credit: Archant

Norfolk County Council is showing its continued commitment to the importance of apprentices with the launch today of its major new Backing Apprenticeships campaign.

It comes as new figures show the county is bucking the national trend, with the number of 16-18 year olds starting an apprenticeship in Norfolk up by 5.1pc between August and October 2012 compared to the same quarter the previous year - nationally there was a decrease of 7.5pc.

For 19-24 year olds, the figure in Norfolk shows a 25.7pc increase in the number taking up apprenticeships - this is compared to a rise nationally of 13pc.

The county council is aiming to build on this success by encouraging more local businesses and 16 to 24 year olds to sign up during their campaign which runs at the same time National Apprenticeship Week until Friday.

During the week, a specially branded Apprenticeships Norfolk bus will be touring market towns around the county between 10am and 4pm, stopping off at locations such as local business parks and areas with a high concentration of businesses.

There will be apprenticeship experts on board the bus who will offer information and advice to businesses at each stop so they can find out more about the benefits of employing an apprentice.

Alison Thomas, cabinet member for children's services at Norfolk County Council, said: 'Apprenticeships create many interesting and valuable opportunities for young people, especially during the current tough economic climate. They may even present career options which young people perhaps haven't considered before. We believe it's important to invest in apprenticeships, and continue to do so. Our recent budget announcement supports this as we have committed to spending a further £250,000 grant towards the Norse apprenticeship scheme.'

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Apprenticeships Norfolk is an initiative being driven and funded by the county council to increase the number of 16-24 year olds undertaking an apprenticeship.

The county council sees apprenticeships as a successful route into employment, ensuring young people are gaining the skills desperately needed in the Norfolk economy.

The fund supports local businesses by subsidising wages and therefore increases the number of 16-24 year olds taking up apprenticeships.

It is available to support small and medium sized businesses (employ less than 250 people) in nominated sectors who have not taken on apprentices within the last year. In addition, businesses may be eligible for a grant of up to £10,000 to help with the costs of employing an apprentice.

As previously reported, 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.

Ann Steward, cabinet member for economic development at Norfolk County Council, said: 'We are aiming to really drive home the message that apprenticeships are a fantastic option for both businesses and young people. We therefore hope to increase the number of employers in the county recruiting apprentices as well as increase awareness of how apprenticeships work amongst parents, carers, teachers and the other people who influence young people's decisions.

'Apprenticeships allow young people to 'earn while they learn' while the employer has the opportunity to develop its workforce in a positive way by choosing the candidate and qualifications which suit their business.

'We hope by touring around the county we can reach as many young people as possible within different communities to inform them about the benefits of apprenticeships.

'As well as the 'Backing Apprenticeships' campaign during National Apprenticeships Week, Norfolk County Council is investing a great deal in a number of apprenticeships schemes. We believe apprenticeships are a very practical option and are a win-win for young people and businesses and I would urge both to come along to the relevant events.'

Apprenticeships Norfolk was launch at the Forum in Norwich last September and will look to increase apprenticeships created particularly in business sectors which have the potential for growth including engineering, energy, advanced manufacturing, and health and social care.

The council also wants micro businesses – those with less than 10 employees – from all sectors to get involved.

For more information about the Backing Apprenticeships campaign and National Apprenticeships Week please visit

See your paper every week day this week for more information about the Norfolk Backing Apprenticeships campaign.