Express & Star launches campaign to get young people into work

There are 2,000 young people out of work in Staffordshire – but today the Express & Star launches a campaign to get those struggling for employment into a job.

Express & Star launches campaign to get young people into work

We have joined with a team of training and business experts to launch the Ladder for Staffordshire apprenticeship campaign.

The scheme is backed by the Duke of York and comes off the back of the success of the Ladder for the Black Country which has created nearly 500 apprenticeships for young people.

Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne today hailed the campaign and said: "Improving skills and creating jobs is at the heart of our plans to make the Midlands an engine for growth and it's fantastic to hear about the launch of the Ladder for Staffordshire.

"This new Ladder builds on the success of the Ladder for the Black Country and will ensure young people across the Midlands get the best opportunities and training to get their foot on the job ladder."

We are appealing to businesses big and small to take on at least one apprentice and get Staffordshire's young adults into work.

And we are urging young people to grab these opportunities, start an apprenticeship and get on a career ladder.

Unemployment in Staffordshire is below the national average but we want to help the county to a fully-employed workforce.

As part of the Ladder for Staffordshire, the Express & Star has teamed up with training provider Performance Through People and the Vine Trust, a pioneering charity dedicated to get young people into work.

Also on board is the Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce and Staffordshire County Council and Stoke-on-Trent City Council.

The Ladder for Staffordshire is the third campaign of its kind to be rolled out in the Midlands.

The first was the Ladder for the Black Country that launched in September and has already created almost 500 apprenticeships.

More than 100 companies have signed up and more than 100 young people have taken started in the new jobs. The idea for the Ladder campaign was first suggested by the Duke of York who approached representatives of the Vine Trust and the Express & Star.

This approach led to a delegation including the Express & Star, PTP, the Vine Trust, and the Black Country Chamber of Commerce attended a meeting at Buckingham Palace.

Nine months later, the scheme has been a huge success and had the backing of the Prime Minister, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and the former Governor of the Bank of England Mervyn King. Buoyed by that success, the Express & Star's sister paper the Shropshire Star launched the Ladder for Shropshire earlier this year.

This week, the roll-out continues as we reveal the Ladder for Staffordshire.

Rob Colbourne, managing director of PTP, said: "With the extraordinary success of the Ladder for the Black Country, we are thrilled that stakeholders and employers have asked us to expand the initiative into Staffordshire, to hopefully have the same impetus with regards to the apprenticeship brand supporting clients find jobs and of course employers fill their vacancies.

"The Ladder seems to be a brand that people trust, and can only help improve Information advice and guidance given to parents, school leavers and job hunters, as well as supporting the government achieve their three million apprenticeship target."

Vine Trust chief executive Kevin Davis said: "The Prince was interested in the wider work that was going on to help youth employment. The Prince was involved with an apprenticeship campaign led by the London Evening Standard and the City Gateway charity that helped to create initially 500 new apprenticeships.

"We had some dialogue where I said I believed I could pair together the equivalent partners in the Black Country."

Around the same time of this visit, Express & Star deputy editor Diane Davies had attended a Society of Editors event and heard Prince Andrew talk of his passion for apprenticeships and the role the Press had in helping to tackle youth unemployment. So when the Express & Star was approached about taking part in an apprenticeships drive, she was biting at the bit to get involved.

She said: "The Prince is very passionate about his cause and that is very infectious. After hearing him speak, I had come back to Wolverhampton full of enthusiasm and here at the Express & Star we had been discussing possible campaigns but nothing as extensive as the Ladder for the Black Country. When Kevin approached us and was already recruiting the other partners, it was exactly the sort of campaign we wanted to be part of."

HRH The Duke of York Prince Andrew chatting with apprentices on a visit to the Express & Star

The delegation to London in March also included representatives from Ikea who have taken on apprentices and Walsall Council who have been involved in creating apprenticeships. Mr Davis said: "We met with a delegation from the London campaign and talked about how we could emulate this in the Black Country. All the partners were enthusiastic and committed."

And the Ladder for the Black Country was born. The partners began to hold meetings setting up the foundations to enable the campaign to be a long-term project. PTP took the lead in setting up the website and helpline which will be the first point of contact for both would-be apprentices and firms offering to take on the young people. Local colleges and training providers have also stepped forward to help with the project.

On his visit to the Express & Star last year, the Prince pressed home his philosophy urging young people in the Black Country and Staffordshire to be entrepreneurs and become 'bedrocks' of Britain's economic future.

He said: "Driving young people down a reasonably narrow stream of education can sometimes be counter-productive. We need to encourage people to open up their ideas. If we can create entrepreneurs people will come into the community capable of running a small business, which is the bedrock of how the economy now works."

The Palace has remained in contact with Mr Davis throughout, keeping a watching brief on the progress of the Ladders project.

The Ladder for the Black Country also sponsored the Apprentice of the Year award at the Express & Star's business awards which was won by Daniel Cope.

Express & Star editor Keith Harrison said: "Apprenticeships have, for too long, been seen as a poor alternative to further education.

"Today we realise that people who become apprenticeships do go on to be hugely successful in their field.

University is not for everybody, apprenticeships are a direct way for young people to learn a trade or professional skills and get a job.

"I would urge young people looking for opportunities to contact the Ladder and see some of the roles available. If you have children, grandchildren or neighbours looking for a start in life please wave the phone number at them or point them in the direction of the website. This could a life-changing move – taking the first step toward a promising career."

A dedicated website and telephone number has been set up which will be managed by PTP.

Both young people interested in apprenticeships and businesses looking to take on apprentices can call the Ladder for Staffordshire.

More than 2.2 million apprenticeships have been created since 2010 with the government aiming to create three million by 2020.

PTP managing director Rob Colbourne added: "With the extraordinary success of the Ladder for the Black Country, we are thrilled that stakeholders and Employers have asked us to expand the initiative into Staffordshire, to hopefully have the same impetus with regards to the apprenticeship brand supporting clients find jobs and of course employers fill their vacancies.

George Osborne on a visit to Westley Plastics in Dudley. He has praised the latest Ladder scheme

"The Ladder seems to be a brand that people trust, and can only help improve Information advice and guidance given to parents, school leavers and job hunters, as well as supporting the government achieve their three million apprenticeship target."

This month the government took steps to legally protect apprenticeships so that the term cannot be used to promote low quality courses and that they are giving equal status to university degrees.

To ensure that more young people can benefit, Skills Minister Nick Boles has also announced that public bodies will now be set targets to take on more apprentices. Schools, hospitals, prisons and police forces will all be creating opportunities for young people to get on.

Mr Boles said: "If university graduates have their moment in the sun so should people who undertake apprenticeships. Businesses know their value so it's high time they were recognised both by the public and in law as being equal to degrees.

"We want far more employers to get involved in apprenticeships. This means making sure that we practise what we preach in government, so we're going require all public sector bodies – schools, hospitals, prisons and police forces – to employ apprentices."

To get an apprenticeship or to take on an apprentice go to www.ladderforstaffordshire.co.uk or call 03332 409 699.

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