Talent praised at Great Yarmouth College apprentice awards

THE skills, enthusiasm, energy and dedication of more than 20 apprentices were celebrated at a special event to applaud their value to the workforce.

“Hard working”, “eager to learn”, “a joy to employ” and “brings new ideas to the business” were just some of the phrases employers used to describe their apprentices at the first Great Yarmouth College Apprenticeship Awards.

They spoke passionately of the benefits of apprentices, how they helped their businesses grow and ensured tailor-made staff for the future at the celebration to mark National Apprenticeship Week.

Apprentices of the Year, Young Apprentices, Adult Apprentices and Outstanding Achievement winners came from a wide range of industries – catering, care, engineering, plumbing, hairdressing, motor repair, business administration and electrical installation.

Penny Wycherley, college principal, said she was delighted to see so many employers supporting the event.

She said: “Among all the gloom and doom being announced by the Government, apprenticeships are one area where they are promising investment with more funding available to us as a college.

“It is good news for employers and, of course, great news for the young people and adults in Great Yarmouth.”

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Some of the employers at the event began their working lives as apprentices at Great Yarmouth College and have been working with the college on the Apprenticeship scheme for more than 30 years.

Tanya Sutcliffe, owner of Fusion, Gorleston, was an apprentice 30 years ago and now owns her own businesses employing 30 people, and is a big advocate for apprentices.

“I am living proof that apprenticeships really do work. My business has been founded on apprentices since I started. “ They are the lifeblood of any business and your business can only succeed on young people and apprentices.”

Glen Moore, of the National Apprenticeship Scheme, said there were 280,000 new apprenticeships last year, a 19 per cent increase on the previous year with a target this year of 350,000. In Norfolk, there are 15,000.

“It is not only the quantity of apprenticeships that has gone up but also the quality and the dedication of apprentices on the programme.”

A new drive – Challenge 100 – was launched last night to generate 100 new apprenticeship opportunities in 100 days.

Great Yarmouth College is expanding its range of apprenticeships. Among the incentives is a �500 ‘cashback’ offer by Great Yarmouth College for employers who sign up 16-18-year-olds and help them complete their qualifications within the prescribed timescale.