THE importance of marketing apprenticeships as a valid route into employment was highlighted at an event in Northumberland attended by a Government Minister.
Matthew Hancock MP attended the North East Apprenticeship Summit, held at Northumberland College’s Kirkley Hall campus on Friday, in his capacity as Minister of State for Further Education, Skills and Lifelong Learning.
In a keynote speech delivered in front of school and business leaders at the Ponteland campus, Mr Hancock emphasised the importance of marketing apprenticeships as an alternative to going to university.
He said: “We need to make the information available and encourage all schools to act in an effort to get information of all the options available, including apprenticeships.”
The event had been organised by Hexham MP Guy Opperman in partnership with the college.
A number of former and current apprentices were invited to collect certificates for outstanding achievement and to share success stories.
One of them, 19-year-old Katie Hall, landed a full-time job in the repairs and maintenance department at social housing provider Bernicia after completing a Level 2 apprenticeship there while attending the college.
The former A-Level student is now doing a Level 3 apprenticeship in business administration, alongside her job.
She said: “I started my apprenticeship in January last year and finished in August.
“It’s a great opportunity as I was able to further my education as well as getting hands-on experience and getting paid.
“I was able to complete my apprenticeship in eight months and get a full-time job.”
Bernicia’s Head of Organisational Development Debra Beattie said: “It was Katie’s decision not to go to university. It’s important to recognise that an apprenticeship is a valid choice for people. It’s a really good route into work.”
Northumberland College Principal and Chief Executive Stuart Cutforth revealed that he had left school aged 16 to be a coal mining apprentice.
The college is developing links with schools, businesses and other organisations as part of its Pathfinder project to further promote how they can work together.
Mr Cutforth said: “It’s about how we market things. Marketing is a massive job to do.”
Mr Hancock said afterwards: “It’s been fantastic meeting apprentices at Northumberland College and hearing first-hand from local businesses and schools.
“Figures out this week show there has been a rise of more than 14 per cent in apprenticeships in Northumberland in the last year.
“We are developing this further in 2013 by extending apprenticeships to include graduate and post-graduate-level learning.”
Northumberland College offers advice to businesses interested in taking on apprentices and can help them access funding of up to £1,500.
For more information visit www.northumberland.ac.uk