Apprenticeship scheme attracts national praise

Apprentices Jamie Frith and Tyrone Wright , front, with Sheffield Council's Ann Reilly, Julie Dore, and Jack Scott
Apprentices Jamie Frith and Tyrone Wright , front, with Sheffield Council's Ann Reilly, Julie Dore, and Jack Scott
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Opportunities for young people are being boosted through a Sheffield scheme which is being extended to create a further 100 traineeships and has attracted national praise.

Sheffield Council’s ruling Labour group launched its 100 Apprenticeships scheme in 2011, as a flagship policy after taking over the council.

The initiative, costing £250,000 a year, involves subsidising employers to create 100 apprenticeships a year.

So far, 239 young people have been given apprenticeships, 35 of whom have now completed their training and moved into full-time employment.

Many of the posts have been in engineering, construction, childcare and retail.

The council has announced a further 100 apprenticeships will be created through the scheme over the coming year.

The news comes as a report by the national Smith Institute on council-backed apprenticeship schemes singled out Sheffield Council’s programme for praise.

The institute said: “Sheffield Council established the programme shortly after Labour took control of the council in 2011.

“The apprenticeship scheme is brokered by the council using the Opportunity Sheffield database; it is preceded by a six-week pre-apprenticeship course and a work trial.

“This scheme offers the employer a 50 per cent wage subsidy to employers for up to two years until the apprenticeship is complete.”

The report added: “Sheffield Council has been actively using public sector procurement to create apprenticeships.

“The council has attached clauses in all contracts that it lets in excess of £100,000 to create apprenticeships as well as work experience and employment opportunities.”

Shadow skills and regional growth minister, Gordon Marsden MP, spoke at the report’s launch.

He said: “This report is an excellent showcase of what Labour local authorities like Sheffield are already doing to address the call made by Labour leader Ed Miliband last year to enhance and advance the vocational route for young people.

“This report shows the very real success that can be achieved working across the board with councils engaging with colleges, businesses and union learning initiatives.

“This approach builds on Labour’s commitments to boost apprenticeships nationally via the use of public contracts.”

Coun Julie Dore, Sheffield Council leader, said: “Labour is on the side of young people across Sheffield, working to avoid another lost generation as we suffered under the Tory government in the Eighties.

“I’m proud of the support Sheffield Council is giving to young people through working with local businesses.”

The council’s 100 extra apprenticeships have been revealed after Sheffield College announced it was offering 760 apprenticeship placements from September.

The drive to create apprenticeships comes after concern about long-term unemployment among 16- to- 24-year-olds, which stands just below one million nationally.