Ladder for the Black Country: Apprenticeship campaign going national

A national apprenticeships foundation is to be launched following the success of an Express & Star backed scheme which helped get more than 1,000 young people into work.

Prince Andrew visits the Express and Star and talks to Alex Haytree, left, Alex Ireson , Shannon Perkins, Dan Cope and Aidan O’Leary
Prince Andrew visits the Express and Star and talks to Alex Haytree, left, Alex Ireson , Shannon Perkins, Dan Cope and Aidan O’Leary

The Ladder Foundation is being launched next month building on the success of the Ladder for the Black Country campaign launched in the Express & Star four years ago.

With the Duke of York as its patron, the Ladder for the Black Country expanded into Staffordshire and Shropshire creating more than 1,000 apprenticeships.

Ladder for the Black Country
Ladder for Staffordshire

It was then decided to set up a Ladder for England to roll the scheme out nationwide. Now, a foundation is being officially established to encourage and support similar campaigns across the country.

The foundation will be tasked with overseeing the legacy of regional ladder campaigns and guiding their futures. It will also run the Ladder for England following the model established by the Ladder for the Black Country.

Regional campaigns will see training providers working with regional newspapers to highlight the journeys of both employer and apprentice and help get more young people into work.

Kevin Davis speaking in London last year

The Express & Star was one of the founding members of the Ladder for the Black Country with key partners training provider Performance Through People and Walsall-based charity The Vine Trust.

Kevin Davis from the Vine Trust, who is heading up the Ladder for England drive, said: “Going forward, there are plans to create 10,000 new apprenticeships across the country by 2022.

“We are hoping to go into other regions in the country over the next three years while also revisit the ones we have already established.”

Birmingham is among the towns and cities to join the campaign having recently launched a Ladder for Greater Birmingham apprenticeships campaign.

Prince Andrew is an ardent supporter of the Ladder campaigns and patron of the Black Country project. He visited the Express & Star offices in Wolverhampton for its launch in 2014.

The Duke of York at the Express & Star

He also visited sister paper the Shropshire Star when the campaign expanded into the neighbouring county.

When the drive hit the 1,000 apprenticeships milestone the Duke of York said: “Your achievement in creating nearly 1,000 jobs provides valuable and important opportunities for young people.

“I am committed to supporting initiatives that help young people gain the necessary skills to become economically active. I am grateful to all the partners and supporters of this important initiative for their leadership, hard work and tenacity; it would not have been possible without your valuable contribution, collaboration or commitment.”

Last year, the Duke of York hosted a special event at St James’s Palace to mark the success of the Ladder in smashing through the 1,000 apprenticeships barrier. More than 100 apprentices, plus representatives from the Express & Star and its partners, attended.

At the time Mr Davis, who is chief executive of the Vine Trust, revealed plans for the Ladder Foundation to help the scheme develop nationwide and that pledge is now becoming a reality. It will be officially launched in London on October 22.

Kevin Davis at St James's Palace with Jack Cooper, who works for the Duke of York

Deputy editor Diane Davies said: “It is very exciting to see the developing legacy of our campaign which we remain extremely proud of.

“We launched the campaign at a time of high youth unemployment, with the Black Country among the worse in the whole country. We wanted to help solve the tackle the problem and were very lucky to encounter such excellent partners in PTP and The Vine Trust.

“Together we have helped so many young people get on the career path - we even took on five young apprentices ourselves and have been incredibly impressed by their enthusiasm and ability.

“I hope other newspapers and training providers across the country will build on this success and extend the good work of the Ladder campaign across the nation.”

  • In tomorrow's Express & Star: Help tackling the apprenticeship levy

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