THE council’s ground-breaking apprenticeships programme is setting a strong example of how to best equip Wigan’s future workforce.
The authority scheme is already having a solid impact, with 66 young people aged between 16 and 24 engaged on one to three-year long apprenticeship programmes with a third of them taken on full time.
Now hopes are growing that the scheme can become sufficiently self-sustaining to continue after the initial Leaders Pledge of £1.5m funding announced by Lord Smith two years ago.
Council assistant director for economic development and skills Emma Barton revealed it will mark the seventh National Apprenticeship Week by signing up a further 15 apprentices for an enhanced range of schemes.
These will shortly include human resources and payroll, safeguarding, public relations, planning, social services and financial assessment.
And she used the event to issue a new rallying call for the private sector to work in partnership with the council to introduce their own apprenticeships and take advantage of the training support. guidance and expertise within the authority scheme.
Ms Barton said: “Word is really now spreading fast among young people themselves – it is becoming a real mulitiplier – about just what opportunities the Apprenticeship Scheme offers, which is fantastic news for us.
“Investing in our future workforce isn’t a gimmick...it is a key part of our economic strategy for the future.”
She revealed that since the Wigan Council Apprenticeship programme began, a third – 21 former apprentices – are now enjoying full time employment with the authority.
Meanwhile 36 are now on the Level 2 On-Programme Business Administration and a further 13 undertaking other Level Two apprenticeships, including unusually, Media and Legal apprenticeships.
Sixteen have progressed from Level Two to Level Three – with another 11 on target for this in May.
Cabinet member for economy at the council and deputy leader Coun David Molyneux said: “We’re extremely proud of our apprenticeship scheme and the results confirm that we’re on the right track.
“Over the last two years we’ve been working closely with local businesses to support and encourage them to invest in our young people and during that time they’ve provided over 9,000 apprenticeships.
“Despite our challenging financial position, we recognise the importance of investing in our young people and providing employment and training opportunities.
l WIGAN and Leigh College is marking the week by hosting a series of apprenticeship workshops in across borough schools, designed to inform young people of the options and the various programmes available.
Mayor of Wigan Coun Billy Rotherham has also now invited a student from the College to spend time at the Town Hall to learn about his role.