Championing the jobs cause as unemployment falls
AS THE Prime Minister announced a fall in unemployment yesterday he called for more to be done to get people on apprenticeships.
The number of students on apprenticeships has soared in recent years, and Swindon College is celebrating having trained more than 1,000 over more than 50 years.
And as the number of students has increased so has the variety of options available.
It now boasts 110 apprentices in engineering, 111 in plumbing and 80 in motor vehicle, making this the best year for recruitment so far.
“Twenty years ago apprenticeships were popular but then there was a decline in demand,” said Darren King, enterprise manager at the college.
“With the difficulties in the economy, businesses have been looking back towards apprenticeship schemes.
“Many are turning away from recruiting fully trained employees towards those they can mould themselves.”
An apprenticeship allows a student to gain practical on-site experience in a wide variety of skills, often while in full employment.
Many see them as an ideal alternative to a university course for getting people into skilled employment.
Swindon College is one of the biggest providers of apprenticeships in the region.
In its latest Ofsted report, the college received high praise for its courses.
The report, which came out in April, said: “The management of apprentices’ learning is outstanding. Managers and staff plan learners’ apprenticeship programmes exceptionally well.
“They work with employers very effectively to engage their support and enable learning. On-the-job activities are closely aligned with off-the-job training at college.”
One of the main reasons the college gives for its success is its ability to meet the demands of employers.
Darren said: “We work very closely with local employers to ensure our apprentices are gaining what they need.
“Some employers come to us with an apprentice or they say they have a position available and encourage the apprentices to apply.”
Jed Waters,18, is one of the students at Swindon doing level three bench joinery, which involves fitting doors and windows.
He is in paid employment and comes to the college one day a week.
“This is a good way of learning the skills I need for the trade,” said Jed.
“I learn things I would not be able to in a normal classroom, which is not really for me.
“When I finish I’ll have all the skills and qualifications I need.”
The college also runs electrical apprenticeships.
Drew Marchant, 18, is currently at level two, and with demand so high for electricians in the Swindon area he can expect to end up in a well-paid job when he finishes.
Drew said: “Going into electrics is not something I planned on doing but after I did some part-time I decided to come to the college.
“Swindon College is a great place to learn as there is nowhere else around here I could go.
“They have good equipment and there is all the help I need.”
A government scheme is currently offering £1,500 to companies who take on apprentices and has been extended until 2014.
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