COMPANIES across the Malvern Hills district are increasingly turning to apprenticeships to help fill key skills shortages and ensure they can continue to grow.
The latest figures from Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership show 610 people started an apprenticeship in the district in 2016/17 – up almost 11 per cent when compared with the previous 12 months.
The Malvern Hills is the only place in the county where the uptake of apprenticeships is showing a double digit increase.
The district is also bucking the trend for the region as a whole as across the West Midlands apprenticeship starts fell by 1.8 per cent.
Among those turning to apprentices is Malvern Electro Plating.
They were able to offer 18-year-old Reece Green from Malvern Link a Level Two apprenticeship while helping the company meet demand from its expanding order book.
Martin Green, managing director of Malvern Electro Plating, said: “We have never used an apprentice before and thought it was a good way to get a ‘home grown’ employee that will meet our needs as we move into the future.
“Reece started the job the Monday after he left school and continues to be an excellent trainee.”
Key IQ, a business and technology consultancy which also manages the Wyche Innovation Centre, recently took on two new apprentices in the form of 19-year-old James Brewer from Malvern and Charles Aljaradat, also 19, from Worcester.
James is studying for a Level Four Software Development qualification and is currently developing a new software-based web application called LiveWorkGo which will provide information about events at a hyperlocal level.
Charles is working towards a Level Four in accountancy.
Dr Adrian Burden, technical director of Key IQ, said he would particularly encourage small businesses to explore taking on apprentices.
“Taking on an apprentice is a great way to grow your team and at the same time to develop the skills of young school leavers to help them work effectively as they embark on their careers.”
Both companies received support through Malvern Hills District Council’s apprenticeship grant which offers £1,000 to small businesses in key sectors towards training costs.
The money can be claimed in addition to national grants available.
Coun David Chambers, leader of Malvern Hills District Council, added: “It’s great to hear more and more companies are turning to apprenticeships to meet their training needs but we can’t be complacent.
“Apprenticeships are beneficial to both employers and young people as compared to other routes they offer the opportunity to gain experience and qualifications while earning money at the same time.”
For more information on apprenticeships and funding available visit http://worcsapprenticeships.org.uk/ or call 0300 666 3 666.