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“You’re hired”: Wigan Borough means business with Apprentice pledge
Saturday 22nd December, 2012

Thousands of apprenticeships are to be created across Wigan Borough in an effort to help young people get a foothold in the work place.

More than four thousand youngsters will benefit from on-the-job training and be given the chance to study for recognised qualifications as a successful apprenticeship scheme is expanded in 2013.

Wigan Council and Wigan Forward Board have pledged to work with the borough’s business community to create 4,856 apprenticeships in the New Year. They have already created 4,356 in 2012. A host of companies and private sector organisations have signed up to the scheme including Leigh-based Waterfields Bakery and Tudor Heating in Wigan.

Both the council and the Forward Board have committed to working with training providers and employers to create opportunities for young people. The ambitious target is part of a campaign to tackle youth unemployment in the borough.

Ian Lenagan, who is responsible for skills and learning on Wigan Forward Board, says: “This is a fantastic commitment from local companies with an ambitious target of creating 4,000 apprenticeships next year. We believe this target is achievable with the business community, the Forward Board and the council working together.

“Youth unemployment is something that should concern us all and it is important that serious and substantial steps are taken to tackle it. Here in Wigan Borough, we have plans in place to do just that.”

As well as private sector companies, some of the borough’s biggest public sector employers have also agreed to take on apprentices next year – including several schools and colleges. Earlier this year Wigan Council took on 13 apprentices and has recently taken on a further two. It’s the first time the council has run an apprenticeship scheme since 2009.

One of the original apprentices taken on by the council in October was Rhiannon Doran, who has become the first of the apprentice recruits to secure a permanent position. Rhiannon had only worked for the council for a week when she found herself interviewing for a full-time job. Thankfully the 18-year old from Scholes in Wigan made a good impression early on.

Rhiannon said: “I’d only been with the council for a few days when the job came up. I didn’t think I’d have much chance but I applied anyway. When I found out I’d got it, I was made up. I really enjoy working in the team. I’m learning a lot, earning money and now have the security of a full-time job behind me.”

Rhiannon will continue to study for an NVQ in business administration. She faced competition from more than 120 applicants for the role in the citizen support team.

Cllr David Molyneux, deputy leader of Wigan Council, said: “I’m really pleased Rhiannon has got a full-time post. I have heard very good reports about her and all the other apprentices since they started working with us. They have had a big impact across the council and it speaks volumes that one of them has already secured a permanent job.

“Converting apprenticeships into full-time positions is one of the key tests of any training scheme and already we have passed that test. Now the remaining apprentices will be supported in their search for staff positions.

“Apprenticeships open up opportunities for young people and in the current climate that is essential. It’s a chance to learn new skills, earn money and get qualifications.

“I’m delighted with the response from local businesses to our pledge for 2013. We’ve set ourselves a goal and mean to meet it. We’ve got to get more apprenticeships for our young people so they can get the right skills for the employment market.”

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