YESTERDAY saw the start of National Apprenticeship Week, with people of all ages being encouraged to find out more about the increasingly popular route to employment.

A special bus came to Wharf Green to allow people, including employers, to find out more information about apprenticeships and the options available to them.

It was run by the National Apprenticeship Service and was offering advice to people who may not be sure about what they want to do next.

“One of the best things about apprenticeships is that they are available to anyone regardless of age,” said Sally Timmins, an employee account manager.

“We have seen the number taking part increase each year, with 500,000 people doing them this year, which is a huge increase compared to several years ago.

“It is important now that we get the information across that an apprenticeship is a proper job which ends up with a full qualification at the end of it.”

An apprenticeship is widely seen as a win-win situation for all involved.

The student gets to earn while getting vital on-the-job training and the employer gets a worker who they are able to teach the ways of the business.

This Is Wiltshire:

Jo Tomlinson, of Priory Vale, runs We Love Pets and yesterday welcomed her new apprentice, 16-year-old Beth Thompson, above, a student at New College.

“It is great for me because I get a willing worker who is able to help me out,” said Jo.

“The business is growing quickly so I need the help.

“I am able to show Beth all the parts of the business so she also learns a great deal. I have previously helped run the New College Job Club as a volunteer and was very impressed by the apprenticeship scheme offered through New College.”

Beth will be with We Love Pets for 12 months and will get an NVQ in business at the end of it.

She said: “It’s really good for me as I can learn so much stuff that I probably would not learn in the classroom.

“I work here three days a week and then at college on Tuesday’s. I would easily recommend this to other people in my position.”

Swindon College has also seen a huge growth in the number of apprenticeships in recent times, exceeding 1,000 for the first time last year.

One of the students is Alix Suckling, 18, of Park South, who is doing an apprenticeship in hairdressing.

She said: “I did my level one and two at college and I am now doing an apprenticeship.

“I get so much more experience than I do in college as it is so much more varied. For example, we do a lot more gents cuts than I would ever do in a classroom.”

Stephanie Missen, 19, is doing level three cookery and is doing her apprenticeship at Stanton House.

She said: “It is great because we get some really good training in the kitchen. Each week we learn how to do something different, from game to desserts, and the different ways of cooking.

“I like being able to get real experience in a fully-working kitchen.”


Growth Accelerator

Growth Accelerator is Vince Cable’s pet business scheme which had 6,000 participants in 2012 – 85 per cent of which said their business grew more quickly as a result.

Over three quarters also said they had achieved outcomes they couldn’t have achieved by themselves.

Paul Bennett, managing director of  Fascia Graphics, said: “We are using our 20th anniversary as a springboard to really accelerate growth both domestically and internationally. We have invested heavily in cutting-edge production equipment which enables us to manufacture things faster, and to a higher quality.

“Combining this technology with the expertise that Growth Accelerator offers is a recipe for success, and a route to achieving our ambitions of doubling our size by 2018.”

Martin Douglas, zone manager (South West) of Growth Accelerator said: “Working closely with Fascia, we will be focusing on developing the skills of his team through business development coaching and through leadership and management training.

“The added benefit for Paul is that Growth Accelerator will match his training costs pound for pound up to £2,000 for each of his decision makers, helping drive his business forward even more towards sustainable high growth.”

Fascia’s links with Swindon

Fascia Graphics of Chippenham are again working with Wiltshire College and Avon Vale Training on a new apprenticeship scheme to mark National Apprenticeship week.

The apprenticeship scheme will give young adults the opportunity to gain a working knowledge of one of the six apprenticeship roles created at the company, whilst gaining a nationally recognised qualification at the same time. The six apprenticeship roles are Sales/Admin, Engineering, Design, Printing, Finishing, and Membrane Assembly.

As six new apprentices will form part of Fascia’s GrowthAccelerator programme in 2014 Gary Knowles, operations manager at Fascia Graphics, explains how apprenticeships not only help candidates looking for work, but the businesses who take them on too.

“The government’s approach to backing more apprenticeships in the area has allowed us the chance to offer the scheme to several young adults in the past - who have now entered full-time employment with us, after successfully completing their programmes,” he said.

“The main benefit of taking the apprentices on was that it saved us money, due to the funding we received to be able to train them, but it also allowed us to mould the apprentices into Fascia team members, and they will now be employed by us on a permanent basis.

“Being able to nurture young talent in the manufacturing industry is a positive way to increase the size of a team or business and will allow us and other companies to maintain capacity.”

For further information on Fascia’s scheme, contact Gary Knowles at