Businesses in Barnsley are being urged to take on apprentices, with more than 5,000 already working in the borough.
National Apprenticeship Week, which runs from March 9 to 13, is particularly aimed at encouraging small businesses to take on apprentices.
The call is being backed by several local firms, including Naylor Industries, which has its headquarters in Cawthorne, and has nine apprentices; specialist surveying company 1st Horizon, which has ten apprentices and is taking on more, and Cultrix, a Barnsley IT support company, which won a national award for its support for apprentices.
In Barnsley there are 5,320 apprentices, working in everything from manufacturing and engineering to business administration and IT.
Judy Sidebottom, HR business consultant for business support programme Enterprising Barnsley, said: “Nearly every employer that takes on an apprentice, that’s 96 per cent, says it benefits their business, and in two thirds of cases the apprentices stay with the company.
“We’re proud that there are so many apprentices in Barnsley, but we’d love to see even more.”
Bridie Warner-Adsetts, of Naylor Industries, said as well as the nine apprentices already on their books, they had pledged to take on at least one a year.
“We team up our apprentices with very experienced mentors who work with them to make sure they have a good experience and really learn on the job.
“The apprenticeships are obviously great for the young people involved, but they are also a great benefit to us as they bring fresh ideas and energy.”
1st Horizon, which is based near Penistone, worked with Barnsley College to create a new apprenticeship in 3D surveying. It has nine on the apprenticeship, with plans to take on another six each year. The tenth apprentice is studying administration.
Jim Garside, 1st Horizon’s managing director, said: “We would definitely encourage other businesses to take on apprentices and give young people the start in working life that they deserve.
“It’s been great for our business and has helped us take on more clients and grow the business.”
Shaun Wilders, managing director of Cultrix, which won Employer of the Year in the national awards run by 3aaa, one of the leading training providers, for its work with apprentices, echoed Jim’s thoughts.
“Our apprentices are all heavily involved in the continued growth and success of the company and are key to that success,” said Shaun.
All three companies receive free business support from Enterprising Barnsley, which is run by Barnsley Council.
Enterprising Barnsley offers a wide range of free business support to small and medium-sized businesses with growth potential. The programme is supported financially by the European Union and has attracted £3,015,276 investment from the European Regional Development Fund as part of Europe’s support for the region’s economic development, through the Yorkshire and Humber ERDF Programme.