Young people inspired to boost their skills and take on career-enhancing apprenticeships will be able to meet potential employers at an event next week.

The Sheffield City Region Skills Made Easy Programme is encouraging as many employers as possible to showcase apprenticeship opportunities for students studying in the final year of their GCSEs or A Levels at the ‘Apprenticeships – Be Inspired’ event on 4 March 2014.

More than 700 young people are also expected to attend the event at Ponds Forge International Sports Centre, Sheffield, to find out more about the local job market and what opportunities are on offer. Employers will be able to interview potential candidates from the talent pool and offer apprenticeships to aspiring young people.

The day will culminate in a celebration event for the Sheffield 100 Apprenticeship Scheme, which Sheffield City Council invests half a million pounds a year to support young people who would not traditionally take up apprenticeships.

Councillor Leigh Bramall, Cabinet Member for Business, Skills and Development at Sheffield City Council, said:

“This event linking young people and businesses from across the region will help 16 to 18-year-olds get a head start in their chosen career and find out more about the world of work.

We are striving for Sheffield to be the most business friendly city in the UK and increasing the number of apprenticeships is key to this. We have worked hard to increase the number of apprenticeships in the city to give businesses the skills they need and young people a positive future.

However, we need to go further and this event will really help boost the local economy and provide opportunities for the next generation of our workforce.

Young people have so much to offer, as have local businesses of all sizes and in all sectors, so we are looking forward to seeing a packed hall full of people building working relationships for the future.”

The event, which is being run in partnership with Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council during National Apprenticeship Week, is part of the Skills Made Easy programme, a locally designed unique apprenticeship programme that effectively puts the purchasing power for apprenticeship training in the hands of each business.

Skills Made Easy forms part of the Sheffield City Deal which has seen government skills funding devolved to the Sheffield City Region, matched with funding from local councils for skills, to deliver more than £77 million of investment in boosting jobs and skills among young people until 2016.
Since the City Deal project was launched in March 2013, 275 additional apprentices have been employed by 191 businesses.

Figures from the Department of Education show Sheffield has the highest number of people aged under 25 in apprenticeships out of all England’s Core Cities. With 7.8 per cent of young people in work-based training roles, Sheffield is ahead of cities like Liverpool which has 5.6 per cent and Leeds which has 5 per cent.

Sheffield’s apprentices will be rewarded for their hard work during a special awards ceremony at the ‘Be Inspired’ event for young people who have taken part in the 100 Apprenticeship Scheme. The project began in 2011 and aims to encourage 16 to 18-years-old who have not been successful in gaining an apprenticeship in the past get their foot on the career ladder. There will be five awards up for grabs including accolades for the apprentice who has had the most positive impact on the business they work for and the employee who has overcome barriers to succeed.

Daniel Ogden, maintenance manager at Sheffield Technology Parks, recruited apprentice Jack Fereday last year. The 19-year-old is the company’s first apprentice and is due to take over Dan’s role in future if his training continues successfully.

Dan said:

“We interviewed about 20 candidates for our first apprenticeship role and Jack’s enthusiasm, attitude and the fact he had researched what the company does really made him stand out from the crowd. And he’s been amazing ever since! The first few months were obviously a challenge for him as a teenager taking on such a responsible job but he worked hard and settled in.

There are so many benefits to taking on an apprentice and although it requires a lot of energy from the employer as well, the rewards are ten-fold. I think it’s really important for businesses to invest in young people because if there’s no doors open for them they can’t become the future of the businesses we run.

I also think it’s important to show the people we work with that we support apprentices like Jack and that we are forward thinking. For us to have an 19-year-old who is such a great ambassador for the firm is worth its weight in gold and I’d encourage other businesses to come and see for themselves what apprentices like him can offer at the Be Inspired event.”

Jack Fereday added:

“I’m so grateful to have been given this opportunity because I’ve always wanted to work with my hands and do something practical ever since helping my dad out with odd jobs at work and around the house. This apprenticeship has given me the opportunity to learn so many new things, especially how to interact with different people.

I love that no two days are the same and it’s an exciting and challenging place to work. I’ve already recommended apprenticeships to other young people because I think it’s a great start to any career.”