County’s employers set ‘Suffolk 500’ apprenticeship challenge

Paul Winter, Craig Smith, Teresa Logan and John Dugmore at the launch of the Suffolk500 campaign.

Paul Winter, Craig Smith, Teresa Logan and John Dugmore at the launch of the Suffolk500 campaign. - Credit: Archant

A campaign has been launched to encourage more businesses in Suffolk to take advantage of Government support for the creation on apprenticeships.

The “Suffolk 500” initiative aims to secure commitments from employers around the county to recruit 500 new apprentices within the next 100 working days.

It involves the Apprenticeships Suffolk Business Service (ASBS), working in partnership with Suffolk County Council and Suffolk Chamber of Commerce which hosted yesterday’s launch ceremony at its offices in Ipswich.

Teresa Logan, ASBS director, said: “ASBS works with employers in Suffolk to create apprenticeship roles in local businesses and to make taking on an apprentice simple and easy. ASBS provides free advice to help businesses meet their recruitment and business development needs through apprenticeships, and to source the best training and support.”

She added: “Together with the Suffolk Chamber of Commerce we are looking forward to supporting firms and business organisations to help make this campaign successful and a fundamental part of economic growth in our county in 2016 and beyond.”

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Other speakers at the launch included John Dugmore, chief executive of Suffolk Chamber, who underlined the wider need for apprentices in order to meet the county’s skills requirements, and Paul Winter, chief executive of Ipswich Building Society, who hailed the success of the organisation’s own apprenticeship programme. Mr Dugmore and Mr Winter each pledged to create a new apprenticeship role counting towards the campaign target.

Completing the line-up of speakers was Craig Smith, who is currently two-and-a-half years into an apprenticeship with GE Aviation in Newmarket.

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Firms expressing interest in the Suffolk 500 initiative will be able to meet with ASBS to discuss their training requirements and the best apprenticeship programme for them. They will then be referred to a relevant training provider and given any support they need to make a successful recruitment or move an existing employee onto an apprenticeship programme.

Lisa Chambers, Suffolk County Countil’s cabinet member for education and skills, said: “The greatest asset any employer has is their workforce; by investing in them they are investing in the future success of their business.”

Andy Wood, chief executive of Southwold-based Adnams and chairman of New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership’s skills board, added: “Quality apprenticeships give opportunities and brighter futures for youngsters and provide businesses the chance to develop the skilled workforce they need.

“Together they can help boost our economy and drive productivity. I hope our local companies, large and small, will rise to the challenge and I look forward to hearing the success stories in 100 days’ time.”

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