The Ladder, with the support of partners Shropshire Council and Telford & Wrekin Council, has raised the profile of apprenticeships and supported hundreds of employers to offer apprenticeships locally.
Relaunched two years ago, its current phase of activity has come to an end due to funding running out, but there are hopes it will return in the future and continue to provide a one-stop-shop for information on apprenticeships and training providers in the county.
Amanda Carpenter, for the Ladder, said: "The Ladder for Shropshire has become increasingly well-known amongst businesses and education over the past two years.
"With the support of partners Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin Councils and the tremendous backing of sponsor the Shropshire Star the profile of apprenticeships has been raised and almost 300 employers have been supported to offer apprenticeships locally.
’The Ladder for Shropshire was relaunched in October 2020 in response to the impact of the pandemic on youth unemployment which peaked, in our area, at more than 4,000, more than double pre-pandemic when at the same time apprenticeship vacancies had more than halved.
"With weekly articles, great use of social media and digital marketing as well as the support of many organisations such as the Growth Hubs, the Ladder has reached out to local employers and they have responded.
"There are more apprenticeships on offer than ever before with regularly more than 150 apprenticeship vacancies being advertised locally each week, having peaked at more than 200.
"Employers new to apprenticeships have been supported to understand apprenticeships and have been matched with suitable training providers.
"Employers who have come back to offer apprenticeships after a break have been updated and again matched with a provider. Other employers have taken advantage of the opportunity to promote and fill their vacancies. What employers have all valued is the clear independent local advice which the Ladder has provided.
"The Ladder was resourced to work with employers but schools and individuals have reached out, also valuing the impartiality and depth of local knowledge which the Ladder could provide.
"Post-pandemic the Ladder has been asked to deliver apprenticeship presentations to assembly groups, attend careers events and jobs fairs. The Ladder was central to the All About Apprenticeships event staged by the local provider network (MSPN) at Shrewsbury Football Club where 600 plus young people, parents and teachers attended to find out more.
"But now this phase of the Ladder for Shropshire is coming to an end. The hope is that the Ladder will return if and when additional funding is obtained, as there is still so much to do."
A Shropshire Star survey of young people identified that more than 50 per cent don’t know how to find and apply for an apprenticeship, and already work is underway to improve the knowledge of young people, parents and teachers.
"So, the Ladder hopes to be back to continue that work," Amanda added. "But in the meantime, the website, telephone and email address will remain in place and employers who need support will receive a response. Sincere thanks to everyone who has supported the Ladder for Shropshire in its important work of increasing apprenticeships in Shropshire Telford and Wrekin."
Councillor Eileen Callear, Telford & Wrekin Council’s cabinet member for visitor economy, employment and skills, said the authority was delighted to support the Ladder campaign.
“Apprenticeships play such a key role in helping young people to gain workplace experience, achieve new qualifications and earn an income at the same time.
“The Ladder project has been instrumental in encouraging people across the Telford and Wrekin borough to sign up for apprenticeships and has enabled businesses to recruit apprentices which can go on to become tomorrow’s workforce.
“It has been a very successful campaign which we have been extremely proud to support," she said.
Gwilym Butler, Shropshire Council’s cabinet member for finance and corporate resources, added: “Apprenticeships are a great way to earn whilst you learn and develop your confidence and knowledge, and they’re great for us too.
"It’s so rewarding to invest in people and help them to develop their skills, knowing that we’re doing our bit to tackle unemployment and create unique opportunities for people within the county.”
Telford-based mechanical and electrical services contractors Dodd Group has been a great supporter of the Ladder for Shropshire, not only by its own recruitment of apprentices, but in promoting apprenticeships to its supply chain, subcontractors and associates.
A recent success is Hayden Williams who joined as an apprentice electrician in 2021.
He said: “In September 2021, I was fortunate to begin an electrical apprenticeship with Dodd Group.
"This has enabled me to work with a team of the most skilled and professional electricians in a variety of local and national sites and projects.
"My apprenticeship combines this practical experience with studying once a week at Telford College.
"After the completion of my A-levels I have enjoyed being able to apply myself in a professional working environment, which has also developed me personally. Dodd Group has provided me with these fundamentals and opportunities to develop myself and I look forward to taking this further into my career."
Meanwhile, a company specialising in selling interiors has continued to offer apprenticeships with support of the Ladder as a way of growing the business.
Shrewsbury-based CharlesTed was established in October 2017 by Hannah Walters and Kate Home-Roberts – two friends based in Shropshire with a shared passion for beautiful home styling.
It offers a collection of over 1,000 pieces through its online store as well as interior advice and styling through sister company CharlesTed Interiors.
It saw Summer Pound join as a level three business administration apprentice and Leanne Gray as a level two warehouse apprentice in the summer of 2021.
Suzie McKeown, HR manager at CharlesTed, provided an update on their progress and said: “Summer has been promoted to business and IT support and is doing amazing
“Leanne completed with plus distinction and decided to follow her dream of becoming an electrical engineer through another apprenticeship.
“We see their future as extremely bright with many more opportunities heading their way.”
CharlesTed has experienced exceptional growth since the business started in 2017 with exciting plans on the horizon for new projects and developments.
The company added it is currently looking for its next generation of apprentices.
Ladder for Shropshire Data from October 2020 to October 2022:
– Almost 300 employers supported across Shropshire
– 690 LinkedIn followers
– 480 Twitter followers
– 1,110 Facebook followers
– More than 100 articles published in the Shropshire Star and on its website
– Online articles, including weekly apprenticeship vacancy list, regularly attracting between 300 and 700 views on the Shropshire Star website
Useful on-going contacts for local apprenticeships:
– Ladder for Shropshire Telephone: 0800 9998441
– Ladder for Shropshire Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
– Ladder for Shropshire Website: www.ladderforshropshire.org
– Marches Skills Provider Network Course Finder: www.mspn.co.uk/coursefinder
Marches Skills Provider Network Apprenticeship Video: www.ladderforshropshire.org/mspn-links
Find an Apprenticeship Website: www.findapprenticeship.service.gov.uk/apprenticeshipsearch