From education to employment

North East businesses urged to take advantage of funding ahead of National Apprenticeship Week


A LEADING education provider is praising local businesses for their commitment to apprenticeship training despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic

North East businesses have had to innovate and adapt to new ways of working to allow apprenticeships to continue, while some have recruited new apprentices to meet increased demand.

Sage, Jacobs UK Ltd and Broadacres are just some of the local businesses that work with Northern Skills Group, the training and apprenticeship arm of Middlesbrough College, to bring new talent into their workforce.

And now, ahead of National Apprenticeship Week (February 8 – February 14), Northern Skills Group is urging other businesses in the region to take advantage of the Government’s apprenticeship funding before it closes in March.

Peter Donnelly, business development and commercial manager at Northern Skills Group, said:

“We’ve continued to work closely with local businesses who have been able to operate through COVID-19 restrictions, to keep apprentices engaged and ensure their wellbeing is a priority.

“We’re proud to work with so many leading businesses across the region to provide apprenticeship programmes that not only give students invaluable, hands-on experience in work environments but also adapts training to the needs of the business and builds loyalty with the young staff.

“Ahead of National Apprenticeship Week, we want to ensure other businesses don’t miss out on the funding available to recruit apprentices.”

Businesses hiring new apprentices are eligible for incentive payments of £2,000 for hiring apprentices aged 16 to 24, in addition to a one-off £1,000 payment. However, the deadline for businesses to apply for apprenticeship funding is 31 March, with employers urged to act soon.

Peter added: “Apprenticeships can encompass a whole range of different training methods that can be tweaked and modified to suit a business’ needs – which may have changed as a result of the pandemic.

“Perhaps they need new technical skills to adapt their service offering or are looking to retrain their staff. Apprenticeship programmes could be the solution to these issues, from bringing new staff into the business to equipping existing employees with the skills they need to keep up with the changes.

“And for apprentices, it’s a great route to either step onto the career ladder, retrain, or progress into a more senior role – learning on the job as you earn a living.“

Northern Skills Group apprentices have also shown unwavering commitment to their placements throughout the pandemic.

One business that has been taking advantage of apprenticeship schemes throughout the pandemic is Wasley Chapman, which employs an apprentice every year.

Becca Hughes, who recently completed her Level 4 AAT Accounting Apprenticeship, has been making it count with the local accountancy firm.

The 24-year-old helped complete accounts, advise clients, organised payroll and VAT returns during her yearlong apprenticeship at the firm.

Ross Meadows, manager at Wasley Chapman, said:

“We prefer the apprenticeship route to people coming from university as it provides students with the hands-on experience to help them reach their ambitions while also helping us with the work.

“The work Becca was doing here was in line with what she was learning through her College course so it greatly benefits all parties.

“Northern Skills Group are really proactive in the recruitment process – which in the last year has been really helpful with everything that has been going on.”

NHS worker, Gary Mills, has also been taking his career to new heights through his apprenticeship with Northern Skills Group.

Gary, from Ingleby Barwick, is currently a Finance Officer at the NHS North of England Commissioning Support and is now working alongside the COVID-19 testing and vaccination services.

The 41-year-old said:

“It was a fantastic opportunity for me – being able to go into college to train gave me the time and motivation to learn new skills which have helped me progress to my current role.

“The communication between Northern Skills Group, my employer and myself has always been very clear throughout the pandemic and that relationship has continued to work seamlessly.”

In response to the COVID-19 crisis, the whole Middlesbrough College Group has moved to remote working and learning – delivering lessons and tutorials virtually.

Courses have been expertly engineered so that learners get all the benefits of industry-led programmes that were available pre-lockdown.

Northern Skills Group continues to work with hundreds of employers and thousands of learners to provide the skills needed for vital industries.


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