Telford apprenticeship show throws spotlight on career paths
From a full-sized Army helicopter to a Formula 1 pit stop simulator for mechanics, young people were given a chance to learn about potential futures in apprenticeships.
Thousands of youngsters from across Telford, Shropshire and Wolverhampton visited the International Centre's Apprenticeship Show, as well as young adults looking to try something new and find a permanent career.
Run by the British Army, Telford & Wrekin Council and University of Wolverhampton, advisers at more than 50 stalls were on hand to give careers and education advice.
Among the visitors was 20-year-old Freddie Cawston, from Wellington, whose love of Army Cadets as a child had led him to consider a career with the armed forces.
He said: "I've been applying for lots of apprenticeships but so far no luck.
"I love that you're getting paid and trained – it's a proper job.
"I'd be interested to go to university later on, and getting an apprenticeship could lead to me getting the education to do that in the future."
He was exploring the show with Diane Evans from Telford & Wrekin's Job Box, who helps offer advice people.
"Apprenticeships are another option within a number of options," she said. "Events like this help make people aware that they're not like they used to be years ago. There's no age limit, it doesn't matter who you are – the variety is much bigger.
"You can get apprenticeships with degree-level education too, which is brilliant."
Diane said that events like this helped to give youngsters a better idea of what to expect from life after school.
"Events like this brings it all alive. It's exciting, dynamic – completely different from sitting in the classroom," she said.
"They also get the chance to get a feel for the variety of thing that are out there."
Telford & Wrekin Mayor Rae Evans said: "If you're a person who is practical and just wants to jump into a job and get paid, apprenticeships are the best route.
"This guarantees structure to training, as well as a career path. These aren't shady employees, they have to be rated by Ofsted, there's people who're doing quality assurance."
Major Jo Fitton was at the Apprenticeship Show as a representative of the Army. She said: "The Army is the largest provider of apprenticeships within the country.
"We're offering great opportunities to learn a trade. They can then go on to learn those trades, whether it's in the Army or whether they go on to use those skills in other sectors.
"We're offering apprenticeships in engineering, IT, telecoms – all those skills are recognised in industries outside. They can walk into a job at BT, JCB or something like that."
Jo said that events like the Apprenticeship Show was a great way of meeting young people interested in joining the forces.
"The Army offers a great career, and that's the beauty of being here at shows like this. People can come and see the variety of things we offer and speak to people who're already in the Army about how they joined, why they joined and their experiences. What better way to find out if it's suitable?"
Case study 1:
Young people a credit to service
Shropshire Fire and Rescue were on hand at the International Centre to speak to young people about joining their support staff.
After a couple of years of working with apprentices, HR officer Jan Sorrell said they were happy to continue the scheme.
"We've had two years of having apprentices and it's been excellent," she said.
"At the minute we're looking to hire apprentices in support, particularly IT and fire support and prevention," she said.
"We've had a number of apprenticeships to date and we're hopefully going to hire a number later in the year. The young people we have had in the past have been really successful and have brought a lot of energy, enthusiasm and ideas to the organisation."
Jan said she was hoping to spread the word that there are apprenticeships within the fire service.
She said: "We're a good employer and we're a service that's there to help the community.
"Apprenticeships are great because they help to get our workforce more representative of the community we support is good. As well as that, these young people are coming in with the skills we need. We've had apprentices kept on. There's no promise of jobs at the end, but we've already had success of people coming back after they've finished their initial time with us."
Case study 2:
It's the way to go forward, says Kirsty
Kirsty Brookes, 18, from Little Dawley, Telford, visited the show to help find a permanent career after finishing her current training with a housing trust.
She said she thought apprenticeships were the way to go if you wanted to learn something new while still getting paid.
She said: "I've been applying for quite a few jobs lately but I've decided to go down the apprenticeship route.
"I'm currently in a traineeship with the Wrekin Housing Trust which has been amazing and has prepared me for an apprenticeship.
"But that only goes on until September – now I'm looking for something more permanent."
Kirsty said she had always been interested in apprenticeships because it meant she could try something different and be trained from the ground up.
She said: "I want to do an apprenticeship because there's lots of different things to try, and I can find a different role. I can earn a degree, go to college and learn a lot of new things, all while earning money from a job.
"I've already applied with the Army to be a chef, and I've also applied to be a carer."
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