Success as Ladder for the Black Country hits milestone 300 apprenticeships

The Ladder for the Black Country has broke through the 300 apprenticeship milestone.

Success as Ladder for the Black Country hits milestone 300 apprenticeships

The campaign, set up to help reduce the high levels of youth unemployment, has now created 301 apprenticeships.

Eighty employers have signed up to the Express & Star scheme with the latest being family-run manufacturer Top Fleet.

The Coseley-based firm, which makes racks for vans, has pledged to take on two apprentices to help its growing business.

Michael Ryan, the firm's owner, said: "The work we do is specialised and you can't just pick anybody off of the street. We want to train our own staff and mould them in the way we want them.

"We have had a really good year and have a number of big contracts coming up so we need to expand as the current team are working a lot of overtime.

"We have recruited two more staff members and want two more apprentices so we can plan for the future. We are at the stage where we have been seriously thinking about our succession planning and our works manager Andrew Gallear has said he wants to be able to mould a new version of himself.

"This is specialised work and the apprentices will be learning how to use the machinery, carry out detailed measurements and learning from our team in the factory."

Workshop supervisor, Simon Owen, completes a job at Top Fleet in Webb Street, Coseley

Mr Ryan heard about the Ladder for the Black Country by reading the Express & Star.

His firm employs 13 people and has been running for 28 years. They previously had an apprentice in the sales department who they have recruited full-time and currently has an apprentice working in the office.

Last week Wolverhampton-based Carillion pledged 95 apprenticeships to the campaign.

The Express & Star has teamed up with expert partners comprising training provider PTP, innovative charity The Vine Trust, and the Black Country Chamber of Commerce to set up the Ladder for the Black Country.

The Black Country's enterprising tradition of training up the workers of tomorrow.

The Black Country has the biggest youth unemployment rate in England with a skills gap amongst youngsters holding back its growing economy.

PTP managing director Rob Colbourne said: "Some 18 months ago, an idea formed following a visit from Prince Andrew to the Black Country. Six months into the Ladder for the Black Country initiative, it is testament to the partners that the success has surpassed anything we had hoped for with 300 job pledges from approaching 90 employers."

Vine Trust director Kevin Davis said: ""It's just over a year since our partners in industry, local authority and the press, gathered in the Centre room of Buckingham Palace, to plan the Ladder for the Black Country. Little did we know that this grand setting would be the catalyst for the creation of over 300 jobs, in such a short time."

As well as urging companies of all sizes to take on apprentices we are prompting our Black Country's young adults to grab the opportunity to learn, to train and get set on a career path to ensure a bright and prosperous future

The Duke of York is the patron of the campaign which has been praised by Prime Minister David Cameron, Chancellor George Osborne, Labour leader Ed Miliband, and former Bank of England governor Mervyn King. The scheme has now been rolled out to Shropshire by our sister paper the Shropshire Star.

For more information 03332 409 699 or visit the website www.ladderforthe

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