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Apprenticeships: A key part of our growth and our way of succession planning

EMPLOYERS across Northamptonshire have been urged to bolster their workforce and ‘Build The Future’ as part of National Apprenticeship Week.

The campaign, which began today (Monday) and runs until Sunday (February 13), shines a light on a new wave of ambitious, workplace-ready students available to companies as they prepare to emerge from the pandemic.

Northampton College is backing the campaign and has engaged with more than 600 key local partners including employers such as the NHS, Balfour Beatty, Taylor Wimpey, Kier and Engie to ensure its curriculum is effectively aligned to industry and economic needs

“We are passionate about apprenticeships and will be putting on a range of activities throughout Apprenticeship Week from school visits and assemblies to Q&As and drop-ins where people can ask questions and find out more about apprenticeships,” says Northampton College principal Pat Brennan-Barrett.

“As we begin to try to make plans for the year ahead, we recognise that young people and their families are facing further disruption and uncertainty. Employers in multiple sectors are still recruiting for apprenticeships and we are keen to give our students the best possible chance of securing work in their chosen industry.”

Pat Brennan-Barrett

Now in its 15th year, National Apprenticeship Week aims to raise the profile of apprenticeships among employers, individuals, teachers, parents and the media in order to celebrate the positive impact they have on businesses and the wider economy.

The theme for National Apprenticeship Week 2022 is Build the Future,  reflecting on how apprenticeships can help individuals to develop the skills and knowledge required for a rewarding career and businesses to develop a talented workforce that is equipped with future-ready skills.

Barry Tong is managing director of Sol Retail, based at Rothersthorpe Avenue industrial estate in Northampton. “We have gone from having £10 to a £10 million business in ten years and we’re growing rapidly. Apprenticeships are a key part of our growth and are our way of succession planning. 

“In two years’ time we know we’re going to need another ten staff in certain departments so we get them in now as apprentices and give them the training they need to be ready to step up when the time comes.

“Seeing their progression is incredibly rewarding and it allows them the chance to earn good money at a young age while giving us the opportunity to integrate them into the company and our way of working. It’s hugely beneficial for all parties.”

At any one time, Brixworth-based Ilmor Engineering has four or five apprentices from Northampton College among its team, working as machinists or in the quality or engine build departments.

“Our apprentices have a permanent job from the moment they start, providing they meet expectations of performance and college,” says Diana Herschell, Ilmor Engineering’s HR manager. “They are our pipeline of future talent to keep us innovative and at the cutting edge of what we do. They are part of the team from day one.

“From the first day they start, our apprentices are doing actual practical tasks which are integral to our business success.  They learn the skills of the job, how to continually improve a process as well as working as part of a team and earn a decent salary while they do so.”

Mike Poole Decorators cover the Northampton area and currently employ two apprentices who both attend college working towards achieving Level 2 in Painting and Decorating Occupations.

“An apprenticeship in painting and decorating is a three-year commitment for both employer and student,” says Mr Poole. “It helps us to focus on providing high standards of finish and customer care.  It’s good to have company whilst working and great to have the extra pair of hands to help make you more efficient.”

For more information about a range of apprenticeships available at Northampton College, visit https://www.northamptoncollege.ac.uk

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