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Apprenticeships – Opening doors to a brighter future
Tuesday 26th January, 2010

Apprenticeships – Opening doors to a brighter future
rank Conradie, production manager with ATG Willand, with apprentice Shaun Shepard from Beech Hill

“I knew what I wanted – I wanted a job.”

So says Shaun Shepard from Beech Hill. He left school at 16 with very few GCSEs, but was keen to earn and look after himself. With help from Connexions, the council’s information, advice, guidance and support service for young people, Shaun has gone on to great success as an apprentice in local firm ATG Willand.

“Shaun adds great value to our company,” says production manager Frank Conradie. “He has the right work ethic for us to help him become a valued member of our staff.”

He’s just over two years into his apprenticeship with the award winning Pemberton firm, which is a world leader in designing and producing ultraviolet water disinfection systems. Shaun says he is proud that the treatment chambers he helps to make are in use from Scandinavia to South Africa, as well as on cruise ships and around the UK. “Connexions helped me into training and qualifications in something I really enjoy,” he says, “There’s a great atmosphere here.”

Even in difficult economic times, ATG Willand are happy to support apprentices who have positive attitudes. And with this week National Apprenticeship Week (1-5 February 2010), they are delighted to highlight the importance of apprenticeships in today’s workforce, for apprentices and the businesses and organisations that support them.

Cllr Susan Loudon, the council’s cabinet champion for young people, says: “In the current economic climate it’s more important than ever that young people develop appropriate knowledge and skills for the workplace. Apprenticeships play a crucial part in offering high quality training in a wide range of industries – from accounting and engineering to construction, catering and hairdressing. Success stories like Shaun’s are excellent to hear.”

This week, bosses at Connexions are celebrating the success of apprentices but also give employers the opportunity to share the many benefits that apprenticeships are delivering every day for their businesses. And at present, to support employers who may not previously have been able to offer apprenticeships, the National Apprenticeship Service is currently offering employers grants of £2500 to recruit 16-17 year old apprentices in addition to the costs of training which are already met by the service. For more information, contact the National Apprenticeship Service on 08000 150 600.

Jeanette McGuire, Wigan Connexions’ manager says: “We offer a free vacancy advertising service for employers and aim to match their vacancies to suitable young people aged 16-19 by providing a professional information, advice and guidance service."

And throughout Apprentices Week and beyond, local employment experts and career advisers are just a phone call away at Connexions on 0800 953 0109.

Shaun is glad that he made that call. “ATG Willand has sent me to America, and to a black tie dinner in Manchester, but what’s more important, I get treated with respect, and am learning all the time.”

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