Bid to inspire Fylde coast youngster to choose apprenticeships

This week is National Apprenticeship week where the Government is encouraging employers and apprentices to inspire more people to choose apprenticeships as a pathway to a great career.

Wednesday, 7th March 2018, 9:10 am
Updated Wednesday, 7th March 2018, 10:20 am
Olivia Gill, Antonia Hardman and Levi Young signing up for apprenticeships at Blackpool and The Fylde College

On the Fylde Coast companies and organisations have embraced the drive to show that an apprenticeship is a real alternative to degree studies.

It is something Education Secretary Damian Hinds was keen to promote on his visit to the Fylde coast last month.

He talked about ‘massive growth’ in apprenticeships as businesses were being encouraged to invest in skills.

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Johnston Press apprentice Natasha Meek meets the Prime Minister Theresa May

According to Government figures, more than 4,000 people started an apprenticeship on the Fylde coast in 2015/16, including 2,110 in Blackpool.

It marks a rise of 8.8 per cent in the resort, well above the North West average of 1.9 per cent. Wyre saw a similar rise to Blackpool, while in Fylde the increase was 3.8 per cent.

Blackpool and The Fylde College and B&FC for Business has launched a challenge to get 100 people into apprenticeships in 100 days.

The campaign, to mark National Apprenticeship Week, started on Monday, with three apprentices signing up with B&FC and a number of others applying to be placed with employers in a range of industries.

Johnston Press apprentice Natasha Meek meets the Prime Minister Theresa May

Colleen Hickson, head of apprenticeships at B&FC for Business, said: “We are extremely excited to be launching this campaign to create 100 apprenticeships in one hundred days.

“We strongly believe that apprenticeships can offer the best of both worlds for businesses and the candidate. For businesses, an apprenticeship is an excellent workforce development tool which brings in fresh new talent to an ageing workforce.

“For the apprentice, it is often the more hands-on approach of learning while working which allows them to flourish in an apprenticeship and earn while they learn.”

The challenge will run until June 13, with the College providing regular updates using the hashtag #100apprentices.

As well as the 100 in one hundred challenge, the college’s apprenticeships team is hosting daily events at Bispham Campus throughout National Apprenticeship Week, with a different sector theme each day.

Staff will also be holding exhibitions at various YMCAs across the Fylde Coast, at the Houndshill shopping centre and an NHS jobs fair at Blackpool Victoria Hospital.

Mechanic Levi Young, 24, said he sees an apprenticeship as a second chance to secure a fulfilling career.

He added: “I really enjoy the work. For me, being a little bit older, being able to earn a qualification while in paid work is really important.

“I want to end up working in the garage for a major car dealership.”

The 11th National Apprenticeship Week will run until Friday.

There are hundreds of apprentices working in the NHS across Lancashire.

The 598 apprentices at five NHS trusts across the county and South Cumbria, including Blackpool Teaching Hospitals, work across a range of roles from health and wellbeing support and pharmacy support workers to cyber security and engineering.

In addition to these, roles such as healthcare assistants, assistant practitioners and student nurses apprentices are being recruited by social care providers.

The trusts are holding a number of events to highlight the benefits of apprenticeships to those considering applying. Dr Amanda Doyle, GP and chief officer for Healthier Lancashire and South Cumbria, said: “There are a considerable number of opportunities within the health and care workforce that go beyond traditional roles of doctors and nurses.

“There is a wide range of support on offer by health and care organisations in Lancashire and South Cumbria during National Apprenticeships Week for talented people in our region to access careers in health and care.

“These roles contribute to developing a workforce for the future.” For details visit

The Gazette’s publisher Johnston Press is among the thousands of companies working with colleges and training providers to offer apprenticeships.

In the not-so-distant past, apprenticeships were limited to the construction and engineering trades – but in recent years opportunities have expanded to include a variety of job sectors, covering literally hundreds of different roles.

The vast majority of modern apprenticeships are paid, and have significant benefits for both the individual and the employer.

An individual gains nationally recognised qualifications while working for an employer. The employer, in turn, benefits from a willing-to-work employee who can learn on the job.

The rise in university tuition fees, coupled with the Government’s focus on creating rigorous and quality schemes, means that apprenticeships are fast becoming an attractive route into employment.

The Gazette’s journalism apprentice Natasha Meek made a considered decision to follow the apprenticeship route rather than go to university after finishing college.

Since joining the newsroom in November 2017 she has provided invaluable to support The Gazette and its sisters newspapers across Lancashire.

As well as doing some of the vital grass roots work which helps the papers hit the streets every day Natasha, 19, studies journalism one day a week at college.

There she learns essentials of the job like law, shorthand, public administration, video editing, court reporting and writing skills.

Last month she was able to meet Prime Minister Theresa May and brief her on how the apprenticeship was going.

Johnston Press North advanced content team manager Kath Finlay said: “Times have changed in the 40 years since I started out as a trainee reporter, but working in the media as a journalist remains as exciting, and perhaps even more challenging, than ever.

“Not only do we provide news, views and local information in print, we now do it through social media and the internet, and often as it happens through breaking stories online and through new mediums such as Facebook Live.

“Our apprentices will get a fantastic grounding in the industry and I wish them well for the future.”

To find out more about apprenticeships visit