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Council taken to task for not employing enough apprentices
JUST 23 apprentices are employed at Worcestershire County Council - leading to claims the authority is not doing enough for young people.
The county's Liberal Democrat group has severely criticised the tally, saying the council is being hypocritical and "failing to get its own house in order".
For several years the council has lobbied hard to encourage private employers to take on more apprentices, and only last month a report was produced saying schools must do more to boost the interest among teens.
But just 23 apprentices are working for the authority out of a 3,500 strong workforce, and just three of those positions are at the main County Hall HQ.
Councillor Liz Tucker, leader of the county's Liberal Democrat group, said: "I am strongly supportive of apprenticeships but I'm concerned the council talks the talk, but doesn't walk the walk.
"When I checked there were only three apprentices working at County Hall (and 23 in total).
"We cannot go preaching to others on this issue unless we sort ourselves out first."
Her criticism has been accepted by the council, which says it will work hard to boost the figure.
Councillor Simon Geraghty, deputy leader and the cabinet member for economy, skills and infrastructure, said: "That's a very good point - we need to make sure we're doing as much as we can internally as well.
"It's something I've already raised with the chief executive because I believe it's an issue we need to raise our game on.
"It's a point well made."
Of the 23 apprentices, 19 are in schools based jobs and four work in various other departments.
A spokesman for the council said: "We recognise these numbers are low but this is something that we will be looking to improve over the coming months as part of the council's 'Investing in the Future' initiative."
A report last month, produced by Councillor Ken Pollock urged the council to encourage schools to put apprenticeships at the heart of career advice.
Between 2011 and last year the number of apprenticeships has rocketed across the county, topping 6,000.
It followed your Worcester News 100 in 100 campaign, which called upon 100 companies to take on 100 eager apprentices and help boost young people’s lives.
It smashed all predictions, with 214 people finding work with 145 different employers.