Apprentice ladder on the rise

'Making young people feel they have been given the opportunity to succeed is vital'.

Apprentice ladder on the rise

That's the message from former governor of the Bank of England Lord Mervyn King as he pledged his support to the Express & Star backed project Ladder for the Black Country.

Lord King praised the apprenticeship scheme for increasing the number of employment options available for school leavers and enabling employers to see they have 'a wider responsibility in providing opportunities'.

Wolverhampton-educated Lord King was speaking after eight more organisations joined the campaign, bringing the total number of training placements created to 138 since the October launch.

"Any scheme of this kind is very important. Making young people feel they have been given the opportunity to succeed is vital," said Lord King, who attended Wolverhampton Grammar School.

"In Wolverhampton there needs to be people coming into the labour market with a wide variety of skills.

"The schools have a major role to play in broadening horizons, but so do businesses. I hope employers will see they have a wider responsibility in providing opportunities."

Lord King was speaking during a visit to Colton Hills Community School in Jeremy Road, Wolverhampton, where he spoke with groups of youngsters about raising aspirations.

Describing Wolverhampton as 'the place that made me', he added: "I have a great affection for the city. It was here that I got my attitude and determination. There is a great tradition here, but we have lost a lot of our industry.

"It is important that we can show areas exist where we are still world beaters.

"The new JLR plant is a big plus. It should help to change some of the unfair and uninformed perceptions about the area."

Former Governor of Bank of England Lord Mervyn King, talks to pupils at Colton Hills School, Wolverhampton.

One of the firms newly signed up for the Ladder of the Black Country, Coton Care Ltd, recently pledged to bring through two support workers, including Nicole Turner who is now starting her Health & Social Care Level 2 Apprenticeship with the company.

Company director Bal Kular, said: "We have found in the past that taking on young apprentices is often beneficial for the company.

"The ones we have taken on previously have been dedicated, willing to learn and have come with no bad habits, we teach them our way and they become part of our family.

"Caring is not a job you can go into casually, it needs to come from the heart and taking on an apprenticeship certainly shows dedication to the work."

Other firms who have joined the Ladder for the Black Country include Walsall solicitors Enoch Evans and the Arbor Lights restaurant from the same area.

Warley steel supplier Barrett Engineering Steel have pledged to take on two apprentices, while Wolverhampton's Gorgeous Radio will bring in three young recruits, including one presenter role and two advertising positions.

Elsewhere, Superior Sections Ltd, based in Walsall, will hire one apprentice while Brierley Hills Sunrise Medical Limited are also recruiting.

Lord Mervyn King, with Colton Hills School students

AF Blakemore, the company who took on the first apprentice through the scheme, have also brought another youngster on board.

The Express & Star is promoting the drive for apprenticeships and apprentices in the newspaper and online, spreading the word across the Black Country and beyond.

The Vine Trust and Performance Through People are key partners in the scheme and have helped it grow into the success story it has already become.

Business development director at Performance Through People, Gill Durkin, said: "We are really pleased with how things are going so far.

"We can already see people have moved into work and after just two months some will already be settled so we have got off to a quick start.

"One of the great things about the scheme so far is that we have had a mix of large and small employers getting on board across all sectors.

"We want people to see that getting involved with an apprenticeship is a perfectly suitable start to a career and can give amazing opportunities to individuals."

A number of schools have also signed up to the scheme to promote apprenticeships to school leavers.

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