Workers share experiences

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APPRENTICES past and present have been sharing their experiences at Northumberland County Council ahead of this year’s National Apprenticeship Week.

The campaign, now its fifth year, runs from Monday, February 6, to Friday, February 10, and is all about raising the profile of apprenticeships on offer and the benefits that they can bring to employers and those seeking a new career.

The county council currently employs 120 apprentices and expects to exceed this target in the next year.

Coun Lesley Rickerby, executive member responsible for children and young people, said: “We are keen to support the campaign and remind job seekers, employers, teachers and parents about the variety of apprenticeships on offer.

“These apprenticeships, whether in local government or in other fields, offer a fantastic springboard to a whole range of careers.

“Speaking to senior officers at the county council who have come through the apprenticeship route it’s clear that they appreciate the grounding it’s given them.

“Those currently going through an apprenticeship at the county council also speak of the variety of work on offer and the opportunities to learn and earn at a time when jobs are in short supply and university fees can be prohibitive.”

Paul Macdonald, Site Manager for the council’s fleet services, started out on his apprenticeship in 1965, serving his time to qualify as a vehicle maintenance technician.

He supervises John Collins, who also qualified as an apprentice in the same field, and Dan Lathan, who has recently finished his apprenticeship.

Paul said: “The programme has changed significantly since I qualified as a time-served apprentice in the sixties but the principles of earn-while-you-learn and gaining skills for life are the same.

“In my role as site manager, I have supported a number of apprentices and believe that the skills and commitment they bring can be invaluable to the needs of the business.”

Dan added: “The apprenticeship programme has helped me to gain skills and experience across all areas of the vehicle maintenance field; I’ve worked on a range of vehicles including road gritters and grass cutting vehicles. The work is very varied and my apprenticeship has allowed me to learn from specialists in this field.”

John, Charge Hand on the county council’s fleet services team, said: “I learned my trade as an apprentice in the seventies and qualified in 1979 following a four-year programme as a mechanic. I now support other apprentices in the team to develop their skills and support the services we provide in Northumberland.”

For more information about apprenticeships at the county council and around Northumberland call 0845 600 6400 and ask to speak to Debra Lowes or email debra.lowes@northumberland.gov.uk