WE’RE there! The Worcester News 100 in 100 apprentices campaign, which aimed to tackle record youth unemployment levels, has hit its target – and then some.

The original idea of the National Apprenticeship Service initiative was to secure 100 apprentice positions in Worcestershire companies in 100 days.

However, soon after the campaign began at the end of May it became clear greater things could be achieved.

So the target was revised to aim at 100 companies taking on apprentices in 100 days. Some of them are pictured on this page.

We have now succeeded in getting 100 Worcestershire companies to offer a grand total of 206 apprenticeships, well exceeding our milestone.

“This has been a fantastic campaign,” said Karen Wood-ward, Midland divisional apprenticeship director of the National Apprenticeship Service.

“It underlines the true motive behind the challenge – to begin a shift in attitudes towards apprenticeships and to help individuals and businesses understand the benefits they can bring.”

Worcester’s MP Robin Walker said: “I think it is fantastic that the Worcester News got behind this campaign.

“It’s really important that businesses realise how easy it is to hire an apprentice and it is equally important that young people realise the opportunities are out there.”

Worcester News editor Peter John said: “I’d urge everyone to take a close look at the faces on our front page today.

“These youngsters are why we did this. It’s all very well talking about targets and the business case, but what we are proud of as a newspaper today is that we have helped to give these young men and women a future.

“Youth unemployment is dreadfully high. It’s much harder for school leavers today than it used to be. The 100 in 100 campaign was, for us, an investment in a better future for local youngsters.”

The campaign, which was also supported by Herefordshire and Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce, Worcestershire County Council and Skills for Security, has produced apprenticeships across a wide spectrum of industry and commerce.

There have been positions offered in construction, hospitality, recruitment, childcare, even a dental laboratory and a barber’s shop.

Mr Walker has led the charge by creating an apprenticeship in his own office, although not necessarily to unearth another MP.

Frances Roberts, employer services manager for the NAS, said: “I am delighted that so many Worcestershire employers have responded positively and are seeing the real benefits apprentices can bring to their businesses.”

I'm on the right track now

WHEN Jay Lawson-Pearce left Chantry High School, Martley, near Worcester, with seven GCSEs, grades A to C, he decided to follow his passion for music by studying for a BTec National Diploma in music technology at the Worcester College of Technology.

Successfully completing the course he was unsure of his future career path and turned to Worcestershire Group Training Association (WGTA).

Having discussed the options, he became interested in apprenticeships after being told about the opportunity to gradually add qualifications to his CV while in employment.

WGTA matched Jay’s goals with Sanctuary Group, one of Britain’s leading housing and care providers, and he secured an apprenticeship opportunity providing support to the group’s human resources administration team.

He has now been appointed to a permanent position as human resources assistant.

He now provides general administration to help the various teams, including payroll, recruitment, contracts and learning and development.

He has already successfully completed an NVQ level two in business and administration.

He is working towards his level three and has also passed a level two course in customer service.

Jay said: “I started my apprenticeship later than some but, having already completed another full-time course, I felt more mature and able to commit to something I knew I wanted to do.”

Elizabeth Mountford, Sanctuary’s group director for organisational development, said: “By completing an apprenticeship with Sanctuary, employees are able to gain nationally recognised qualifications while gaining valuable experience of employment.

“Jay has been a real asset to the team and his success story demonstrates how apprenticeships provide organisations with new talent for the future.”