Cambs grant helps young apprentices on the path to a career

A successful grant scheme is helping youngsters and businesses in Cambridgeshire to take advantage of apprenticeship training opportunities.

East Cambridgeshire District Council (ECDC) is offering £16,000 to eight local firms over the course of the next year to help them to take on an apprentice and expand their business.

There is already a waiting list of keen businesses wanting to receive the £2,000 funding, thanks to the success of last year’s scheme, which helped eight local youngsters into work and training.


High hopes

Clarity Heating, based near Littleport, was one recipient of last year’s grant, as a result of which the company gave an apprenticeship to Charlie Houghton.

He credits the apprenticeship with making a “massive difference” to his life, enabling him to “learn much more” than what he is taught at college, reports the Ely Standard.

Director of Clarity Heating, Vince Rudgewick, added: “It’s made a huge difference. We wouldn’t have been able to take the risk of employing an apprentice so early on in the life of our business had it not been for the East Cambs grant.”

The company now hopes to embark on offering in-house apprenticeship training.


Solid career path

Another company that was awarded funding in last year’s grant was Optimum Precision Engineering (OPE). The firm’s director, Trevor Peters, began his career as an apprentice himself, and was pleased to be able to offer a similar opportunity to another young local.

He said the grant had enabled OPE to buy the tools their apprentice, Kieron Reed, needs, as well as allowing them to put aside some money for more specialised training in the future.

Kieron added: “When the college course I applied for said there wasn’t a teacher for me about six to seven weeks before it was about to start, I did some research on the Internet about apprenticeships. I found out about Optimum and sent them my CV.

“I’m now so glad that I went down the apprenticeship route, as I really enjoy learning on the job and developing specialist skills.”


Apprenticeship ‘opens doors’

A third apprentice, Hattie Ford, was able to study for a qualification while working full-time at bridal wear company Richard Designs, thanks to the grant scheme. She would recommend an apprenticeship to others, saying: “Most jobs require experience, and an apprenticeship offers you that experience, so it opens doors for you going forward.

“It can also lead to further qualifications including degrees, so I’d definitely encourage other students to take this route.”

Lucy Frazer, MP for South East Cambridgeshire, said: “It is important that students have a range of options available when they leave formal education so they can choose the best path for them.

“Access to good quality apprenticeships is a vital part of this and I was pleased to see so many businesses in Cambridgeshire offering opportunities for young people. It is also great that East Cambridgeshire District Council is supporting apprenticeships.”