Winning start to apprentice drive

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THE Gazette challenge to create 100 apprenticeships in 100 days got off to a great start when 49 posts were created on the Fylde coast on launch day.

Beneast Training and the newspaper joined forces to launch the Future Generations campaign for a second year.

The Future Generations launch at the Hilton Hotel, North Shore, Blackpool. Sir Geoff Hurst speaking

The Future Generations launch at the Hilton Hotel, North Shore, Blackpool. Sir Geoff Hurst speaking

Following the success of last year’s event, when 109 young people were helped into work, Future Generations was launched at a glittering ceremony at Blackpool’s Hilton Hotel on Tuesday.

Former apprentice and 1966 World Cup winner Sir Geoff Hurst OBE gave the keynote speech to representatives of the hundreds of local businesses in attendance.

He said: “Recruiting people at a young age in the town they were born in brings something special to a business.

“One thing you need in business – and sport – is new blood at the forefront.

“It’s imperative to have a healthy balance of experience in the workforce.”

The scheme offers employers the chance to take on a young member of staff who will then be trained in their relevant field for free.

Beneast executive director Alison Hall said: “The call to action today is to consider the benefits and pledge support by offering apprentices the chances they need.”

Sue Price, of the National Apprentice Service, told delegates at the conference that giving apprentices a chance could benefit firms financially.

She added: “Apprentices can earn in their lifetime on average £100,000 more than if they were unqualified.

“But our survey of 500 employers found companies recouped any costs – business administration apprentices make firms money in their second year; an IT apprentice will make a firm money six months into their position.”

More than 200 different apprenticeships are now on offer across a wide variety of industries.

Gazette editor David Helliwell told delegates: “Hopefully this event has inspired one or two people who had not previously thought about taking on an apprentice to do so.

“Perhaps this year, with the background of cuts and limited opportunities, it is more important than ever we succeed in gaining 100 young people an apprenticeship.”