Higher level apprentices Naomi Yates and Richard Cumberlidge are just two of over 150 apprentices who took to the stage at this year’s apprenticeship graduation ceremony.
The apprentices, from across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent, representing over 15 sectors from Accounting to Mechanical Engineering were joined by their families and employers.
Now in their fifth year, the Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Apprenticeship Graduation Awards help highlight the quality and range of Advanced and Higher apprentices and their contribution to the local economy.
Richard Cumberlidge from Stone has been doing a Mechanical Engineering apprenticeship with JCB. Richard said: “Engineering is something I’ve always been interested in from an early age. An apprenticeship with JCB was such a massive privilege in itself, but to finish four years of hard work with a degree in Mechanical Engineering was the icing on the cake.
“The fact that I obtained a university degree, without any debt, earning a decent wage, and most importantly, acquiring four years of invaluable industry work experience, are the reasons I fully recommend an apprenticeship to all young people.”
Naomi Yates from Newcastle-under-Lyme has been doing a Business Admin (HR) apprenticeship with Newcastle and Stafford Colleges Group (NSCG). Naomi said: “I enjoy working in Human Resources and completing my apprenticeship has helped me to not only learn the HR way of working but also to help myself grow as a person. Completing my Level 2 & 3 apprenticeship is a great way of learning within the professional industry, whilst earning a wage.
“I am now on a Level 5 CIPD University course thanks to the help and confidence from the apprenticeship department and the department I work in now.”
Philip White, Cabinet Member for Learning and Employability at Staffordshire County Council presented awards to the apprentices. Philip said: “It’s great to be hosting our apprenticeship graduation ceremony again to recognise the achievements of all the hard-working, aspirational individuals who have completed Higher and Advanced apprenticeships this year.
“It really is vital we have a good supply of talented workers with the skills that our employers need to grow our economy. Apprenticeships are key to this and why we want to see even more employers take on an apprentice and realising the many benefits. I would like to congratulate everyone who graduated, well done.”
Alun Rogers, deputy chairman of the Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Local Enterprise Partnership added: “In Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire we have made great progress in recent years by increasing the number of apprentices but we want to see further growth and ensure businesses are aware of the value of apprenticeship programmes.
“Developing a skilled workforce will be an integral part of our Local Industrial Strategy and will include apprenticeship support.
“Our business support apprenticeship helpline also continues to provide employers across the county with the advice they need to realise the benefits of taking on an apprentice.”
Gemma Armes from Cannock has been doing an It Users apprenticeship with PTP training. Gemma said: “I enjoy working with IT and I have thoroughly enjoyed completing my apprenticeship. I have found the information very valuable and it has been great to know that I am making a difference whilst learning at the same time. I would definitely recommend completing an apprenticeship to any young person leaving school or college.”
Janet McHugh, aged 51 from Stoke-on-Trent has been doing an apprenticeship as a Lead Adult Care Worker with the NHS Foundation Trust. Janet said: “Health and social care was a new direction for me 4 years ago following being made redundant from a career in office administration.
“I feel gaining this diploma validated my skills and experience and the further knowledge gained enables me to provide a better quality of care in my role as healthcare support worker. I love that my employer the NHS values its employees and invests in us financially supporting us by funding the diploma.
26-year-old Grace Holford from Stafford is a Level 3 accountancy apprentice with Staffordshire County Council. Grace said: “Apprenticeships are really great and offer an alternative route to studying.
“Achieving a high standard qualification takes a lot of hard work and dedication so having a graduation ceremony is a fantastic way to celebrate people’s efforts and achievements. Gaining a qualification through an apprenticeship should be celebrated the same as if you went to University to study and I’m glad I got my chance on the stage.”
Charlotte Catterall from Stoke-on-Trent has been doing a Travel & Tourism apprenticeship with Three Way Travel. Charlotte said: “Completing my apprenticeship has been a great experience. Having the support of your colleagues and also clients is great.
“I would hugely recommend an apprenticeship to a young person that has finished school, it is definitely a great route to go down and I can’t wait to start my career in travel.”
Apprentices continue to play a key role in strengthening the Staffordshire economy with around 7,000 completing an apprenticeship over the past 18 months.
Higher Apprenticeships are available at a range of levels, from the equivalent of a foundation degree to a bachelor’s degree and even master’s degree level in some sectors. More of these specialised and highly-skilled Apprenticeships are being offered each year, giving individuals the chance to continue their professional development and fully realise their potential.