|Council's million pound pledge to do a deal on apprentices
Some of the original apprentices and training tutor Helen Daniels.
Hundreds of young people will be helped into work thanks to a million pound investment from Wigan Council.
The money will be given to local businesses to fund apprenticeships. The council wants firms based in the borough to take on young people and will help pay for their training as part of The Deal.
A key part of the informal contract between the council and residents is to "create opportunities for young people". The council already employs 72 apprentices itself and wants to encourage other employers to offer similar schemes.
Councillor David Molyneux, deputy leader of Wigan Council and cabinet member for the economy, said: "Youth unemployment is still a major concern across Wigan Borough and providing better prospects for our young people is a priority for the council.
"We've got a million pounds to spend on apprenticeships and training and we want to use that money to persuade external companies and organisations to come forward and give some of our young people a break.
"Our experience of taking on apprentices has been brilliant. They've brought energy and enthusiasm to the council and it's been fantastic to see them progress.
The council launched its current apprenticeship scheme in October 2012. Thirteen apprentices were recruited and all but one is still working for the council. Their original contracts were for 12 months but ten have secured permanent positions, two have had their apprenticeships extended with just one leaving for higher education.
Alex Prescott, 22, from Platt Bridge works as a support assistant in the council's human resources team. She said: "I've had a brilliant 18 months since I started my apprenticeship. When I first saw the apprenticeship available, I thought it was a really good opportunity and applying for it was one of the best moves I have ever made. I have gained a number of qualifications and it has been a brilliant experience."
Her hard work at the council paid off earlier this year when she got a permanent post. Alex said: "I was really pleased when I got the job. I always hoped to stay at the council when I first started when my apprenticeship but to get a full-time job is fantastic."
Hayley Price, 22, from Shevington, is a business and administration apprentice in the council's customer services department. She said: "I have really enjoyed my apprenticeship and love working at Wigan Council. I was working in a shop before and didn't feel I could progress my career. When I first found out about the apprenticeship, I applied for it straight away and I'm so glad I did. I have really enjoyed the past 18 months and would definitely recommend the scheme to others."
Hayley currently deals with council tax and benefits. However, she applied for a new job as an awards and taxation officer in the council and has just got the good news that she has secured a permanent position. "I was thrilled when I found out I got my new job and I feel the apprenticeship really helped me to be chosen for the role. I am really looking forward to it and can't wait to start," said Hayley.
The council has already taken on 15 apprentices this year and is looking to recruit another eight in May. Councillor Molyneux said: "Alex and Hayley are a great example of what can be achieved with apprenticeships. I know some smaller firms can be put off taking on apprentices because of the cost involved in having to support their training. That's why we're putting forward this new money to help businesses meet these costs.
"The details are still being finalised but we'll soon be talking to businesses about taking on young people and what we can do as a council to help. We're investing in this because we think it's so important we take practical steps to offer opportunities to young people."
More information about The Deal is available at www.wigan.gov.uk/thedeal