New drive for apprenticeships

Gripple Engineering Team Leader Kirk White with Sheffield College apprentice Joe Bedford
Gripple Engineering Team Leader Kirk White with Sheffield College apprentice Joe Bedford
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Sheffield College is marking National Apprenticeship Week by launching a new campaign to encourage more employers to hire or recruit more apprentices.

The campaign aims to increase the total number of apprentices studying at the college at any one time from 856 to 1,000.

As part of the campaign, Sheffield College is offering employers a free business review, designed to highlight any skills gaps that employing an apprentice could fill, and a free geographic profile, which will reveal the skills of the local population on their doorstep.

The college is also highlighting the part its trainees are playing in local firms.

Among them is 21-year-old Joe Bedford, who opted to become an engineer, although he might have played football semi-professionally after leaving school.

“My dad’s an engineer and I know Sheffield engineering firms are still going strong, despite the recession,” said Joe, who is an apprentice with Gripple, in Savile Street East.

“I wanted to develop a skill but also gain qualifications, working my way up the various levels, plus, I am the sort of person who prefers to learn by doing.

“I really enjoy my job, the staff are friendly and always willing to help.”

Joe’s boss at Gripple, Kirk White, started his career as a Sheffield College apprentice and has worked his way up from the shop floor at Gripple to become an engineering team leader.

Kirk said: “We’ve seen a 20 per cent increase in business during the last year. As the company grows, we want to invest in new and young people from the area. We train our apprentices in specific areas such as robotics, pneumatics, electrical and programming so they become multi-skilled.

“We pride ourselves on investing in our people, being radical, pioneering, innovative and always challenging the norm. By hiring apprentices, we can install our values and prepare for the future.”

n National Apprenticeship Week starts today and involves a number of events in the region, including a drop in event and round table discussion, organised by Sheffield Central Labour MP Paul Blomfield, which takes place in the Cutlers’ Hall on Friday.

The drop in event runs from 10am to 1pm and is aimed at Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs). It coincides with the launch of a dedicated service for SMEs which want help or advice on taking on apprentices. It is run by the National Apprenticeships Service, .

Staff from the National Apprenticeships Service will on hand to answer any questions that SMEs might have about apprenticeships, including how to secure Government funding and find appropriate training providers.

n For more information about the drop-in session, call: (0114) 272 2882 or e-mail:

n Sheffield Forgemasters will showcase its award-winning apprenticeship programme when Minister of State for Further Education, Skills and Lifelong Learning John Hayes visits its Brightside Lane site on Thursday.

Mr Hayes is responsible for apprenticeships as part of his job as a Minister at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.