100 Apprenticeships in 100 Days

Businesses across the region are being urged to back St Helens Chamber’s ‘100 Apprenticeships in 100 days’ campaign.

The campaign was launched on April 15 and has already helped to identify Apprenticeship positions for 22 eager young people in a range of local businesses.

Kath Boullen, the Chamber’s Chief Executive, is appealing for even more local businesses to lend their support.

She said: “This is a very exciting challenge for St Helens. It is also a great way for businesses to meet their recruitment needs in a cost effective way, while providing local young people with a great start in their working life.”

The Chamber is asking for businesses to pledge their support to the campaign by filling any suitable vacancies they may have over the next few months with an Apprentice.

In return for this commitment, the Chamber, backed by funding from St Helens Council and the European Social Fund, offers businesses a free recruitment service and a contribution of up to £2,500 towards each Apprentice’s wages.

St Helens Chamber can also offer free training for Apprentices in a wide range of fields, ranging from bricklaying and plastering through to retail, ICT and management.

GPW Recruitment is one of a number of local businesses keen to support to the Apprenticeship campaign.

“The Chamber’s Apprenticeship programme is fantastic and I am happy to recommend it,” said Mark Parish, Managing Director of GPW Recruitment.

GPW Recruitment took on three Apprentices last year and they are all still proving a valuable investment for the company. Chris Kenny, who started as an Apprentice Consultant in GPW’s manufacturing division 13 months ago, won the company’s ‘Employee of the Month’ award in April.

Mark adds: “The award is given to the top performing consultant in the whole group and is judged on the amount of money they generated for the company during that month.

“For a young man like Chris to win this award in a company that has been established for more than 38 years is an amazing achievement. It is also testament to the calibre of Apprentices available on the programme.”

A major attraction for Mark was the Chamber’s induction programme, which ensures that all Apprentices are given four weeks of basic training before entering the programme.

“This was very important for us as it makes sure that the Apprentices are properly prepared for the workplace. The Chamber also vets each prospective Apprentice before they are allowed to join the programme so they are all of a very high standard.”

But the Apprentices offer much more than their talent, says Mark: “Their enthusiasm is infectious. They are keen to learn and to prove themselves, which makes them very motivated.

“The Apprentices have been like a breath of fresh air in the office and have been a great support to our consultants during what has been a very difficult time for the industry as a whole.

“All they needed was an opportunity to show what they could do and that is the same for all of the Apprentices on the programme. These young people represent the future of this country. If local businesses support them now, we will all reap the benefits in the future. ”

GPW Recruitment plans to recruit another five Apprentices in 2011 – more than 10 per cent of its total workforce.

Other companies that have agreed to take on an Apprentice include Capital Bookkeeping, Parkside Ltd, P&R Labpak, Saints Foundation, TJ & S Jenkinson Ltd and Wind in the Willows. David Watts MP has also shown his support by signing up to the programme.

Cllr Marie Rimmer, Leader of St Helens Council, said: “This Council is fully committed to seeking ways to improve the life chances of our young people. In the present very difficult climate it is important that we support young people into employment and beyond.”

Apprentices recruited through the new programme need to be aged between 16 and 24 and must be paid minimum wage or higher.

If you will have a vacancy in your business this summer that could be filled by an Apprentice, contact St Helens Chamber on 01744 742000, email workforce@sthelenschamber.com or visit www.sthelenschamber.com.