THROUGHOUT its 40-year history, Sheffield’s M and G Olympic Products hired apprentices to help ensure the future of the firm.
But when the recession bit, the Randall Street business had to stop taking on young trainees. The company, which designs, manufactures and installs custom-built architectural metalwork, feared the expertise which has seen it called upon to work on a London 2012 swimming pool might be lost in decades to come.
This summer the answer to bosses’ prayers came in the form of Sheffield Council’s Apprentice Challenge, backed by The Star, which aims to tackle youth unemployment.
The scheme aims to get 100 out-of-work 16 to 18 year-olds on the career ladder by providing training, matching them with potential employers and part-subsidising an apprentice wage for up to two years.
Production director Dennis Buck had only intended to hire one person, but candidates Alex Bedford, 18, and Ben Leggitt, 17, were both so good they created two positions. Keen to show his appreciation, Mr Buck took Sheffield Council leader Coun Julie Dore and Labour’s Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Liam Byrne to see how the pair are getting on.
Mr Buck said: “In a recession you tend to only have people working for you who are already trained. You work with what you’ve got. Then a councillor told me about what Sheffield Council is doing.
“Both lads are getting on well. They seemed to enjoy it. They go to college in Chesterfield once a week on day release and eventually they will become steel fabricators. At the moment, we’re working on a swimming pool for the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. I think what Sheffield Council is doing is absolutely fantastic.”
The number of apprentices who have been taken on has now reached 50, with enough funding for 50 places left.
A similar scheme which ran last year created jobs for 100 NEETs - teenagers not in education, employment or training.