Helping hand on to the jobs ladder

Blackpool Council apprentices, from left, Deanna Hawkins, Aaron Attwater, Charlotte Rodgers, Kurtis Thorley, James Kay, Lewis Derbyshire and Michael Hitchen.
Blackpool Council apprentices, from left, Deanna Hawkins, Aaron Attwater, Charlotte Rodgers, Kurtis Thorley, James Kay, Lewis Derbyshire and Michael Hitchen.
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YOUNG people in Blackpool are being given a helping hand onto the jobs ladder in a move aimed at defying regional trends which have seen a drop in apprenticeships.

Figures revealed today by Blackpool South MP Gordon Marsden, who is Labour’s shadow skills minister, show the number of 16 to 18-year-olds starting apprenticeships in the North West has fallen by 14 per cent.

There were 3,330 fewer places created in the region in 2011-12 compared to 2010-2011.

But more than 100 Fylde coast companies are working with Blackpool Council in a bid to boost apprenticeship opportunities, with 15 young people recently taken on by the council.

Council leader Coun Simon Blackburn said: “The Government isn’t doing enough to help young people get that first step on the ladder but here in Blackpool we certainly are.

“We know the benefits it brings and are working with Blackpool and The Fylde College on a project called Chance 2Shine that gives local employers a much simpler method of hiring young people, as well as some financial incentives should they employ them.

Labour wants companies which win large government contracts to offer new apprenticeship places.

Mr Marsden said: “Ministers need to get a grip and urgently boost apprenticeship opportunities for young people, at a time where youth unemployment remains at its highest level for a generation.

“We would take action by using public procurement and government contracts to boost apprenticeship places but ministers have refused to back our plans.”

Previously unemployed, council apprentice Louis Darbyshire, 23, is now working with the council’s economic development team.

He said: “Getting experience in a working environment will prove valuable for my career development and has given me the opportunity to study for a Level 2 NVQ in business administration while in work.

“I’m hoping to progress and see what other training is available.”

Deanna Hawkins, 19, was home schooled and joined a skills training programme for more qualifications to support her CV.

She’s now starting work as an administration apprentice at the Household Waste Recycling Centre on Bristol Avenue:

She said: “I’m really looking forward to it - the scheme will provide me with skills and confidence that can equip me for future employment.”

Tory MP for Blackpool North and Cleveleys Paul Maynard said: “Quality and quantity must go hand in hand.

“I also firmly believe that apprenticeships need to be open to all age-groups, not just the young, as older workers also need to reskill during times of economic uncertainty”.

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