Kirklees College is celebrating National Apprenticeship Week, which runs from March 6-10.
The college offers the widest range of work-based learning opportunities to young people in Calderdale and Kirklees, training around 2,800 apprentices every year in around 30 different subjects.
Apprentices do real jobs and earn while they learn. Building knowledge and skills on the job, they train in the workplace and gain a qualification at college.
Sam Blagbrough, 19, from Halifax, is an engineering apprentice with Kirklees College based at the Engineering Centre in Huddersfield, and works for Marshalls Mono Ltd in Southowram.
“I’ve been at Marshalls for over two years and have learned more than I could have imagined,” said Sam.
“I enjoy the balance between the hands-on role and the academic side. What I’m doing at college, I’ve found a lot of it applies to what I am doing at work.
“I’m learning a set of skills, getting qualified and gaining work experience and I don’t have the debt I would have had from university but I could still go on to degree level.
“When I left college this is exactly what I would have set as my goal to have achieved within two years.”
Apprenticeships give employers a chance for their staff to improve skills and recruit new enthusiastic workers.
Over the last few years Kirklees College has been working differently with employers to ensure programmes meet their business needs, either as part of their long term plans to replace an ageing workforce coming up to retirement age, or developing new facilities and programmes to meet specific skills gaps.
Marshalls Engineering Manager Grant Hutchinson is overseeing Sam’s Apprenticeship and is a former apprentice himself.
“There is definitely a huge skills gap because we have trouble recruiting staff with the skills we need,” said Grant.
“I’m a huge advocate of Apprenticeships because if you can’t get the skills you need, you can grow your own. I didn’t realise you could go to college, sit down and put your own course together and work with them to get what you need.
“For young people it’s a great way to build a career especially if university isn’t for you. Don’t think it’s all going to be sweeping the floor and making pots of tea! You’ll be genuinely learning skills, being challenged and doing something worthwhile academically.
“Sam has been a really great fit and it’s going really well. You can see him developing as an apprentice and see the skills that he is building and I am convinced he has a wonderful career ahead of him.”
In April the Apprenticeship Levy will be introduced which changes the way that Apprenticeships are funded.
Kirklees College, in partnership Huddersfield Town Enterprise Academy and Semta, have a breakfast event on the Apprenticeship Levy for employers to find out how it will affect their business.
The free event is at 8.30am on Thursday 9 March at the college’s Engineering Centre in Turnbridge Road, Huddersfield. Book your place online at www.levyready.eventbrite.co.uk.
For more information about Apprenticeships and other courses at Kirklees College email email@example.com, visit www.kirkleescollege.ac.uk, call 01484 437070 or come see us an an open day: Tuesday 21 March from 5-8pm (last entry 7.30pm) at Dewsbury centres; Saturday 25 March 10.30am-1pm (last entry 12.30pm) at all Huddersfield centres.