Wayland Academy apprenticeships launched in Watton

A new initiative to make it easier for small businesses to take on an apprentice was launched in Watton on Friday. The idea was developed by local social entrepreneur Robert Ashton. He’d hired an apprentice himself and recognised the opportunity to make the process less bureaucrat and less risky for the smaller employer.

The project is a partnership between Wayland Academy, who will provide the training venue and some skills training, City College Norwich who will deliver the apprenticeship in Watton and a yet to be named sponsor who will employ the youngsters and handle all the bureaucracy.
‘People running a small business or community organisation can now have an apprentice working full or half time’, explained Robert Ashton who will be managing the project. ‘The apprentices will be learning about how business is done, as well as picking up the practical skills relevant to the business they work in,’ he added.

Businesses will pay each month for the time their apprentice is with them and be encouraged to share their experiences as part of the group’s weekly training day. Each apprentice and business will be helped to measure their impact on the businesses bottom line. ‘We want to focus the youngsters on making money for their businesses’, Robert Ashton explained, ‘so that they can grow a job for themselves when they gain their qualification. We want them to very quickly become indispensable to the business.’

‘Creating a local solution to a national problem is yet another example of how Norfolk can innovate and show the rest of the country how to do it,’ said Dick Palmer, CEO of City College Norwich and Group CEO of the TEN Group, Wayland Academy’s sponsor. ‘The Watton Entrepreneurial Apprenticeship programme, working with local young people, the local Academy, the local College and local small businesses is real evidence of how we really do, 'do different!'’

First business owner to sign up for the programme was Julia Lumsden of Retrorecyclers in Watton. The firm restores and retails vintage, antique and recycled household items from its showroom and has a nostalgia themed tea-room where the launch event took place. ‘We need our apprentice to learn about retail, catering, furniture restoration and more,’ she said.’ I like the focus of this qualification on ‘doing business’ and the sponsor handling all the paperwork makes it far easier to consider.’

'The Government's Apprenticeship Programme has created 600,000 new Apprenticeships in the last 2 years, but rural youth unemployment is a particular problem. Youngsters leaving school and college in rural Norfolk face particular challenges. With fewer jobs on offer from the big employers of yesteryear, and more from smaller micro-businesses, the challenge is to help youngsters access these opportunities. The Wayland Academy is doing great work to help equip our youngsters with the skills they'll need in the modern workplace, and I welcome this initiative to help them access work.' said George Freeman MP. 

Wayland Academy Headteacher Michael Rose commented, "Young people in our rural part of Norfolk deserve every opportunity to grow and succeed in life. The apprenticeship scheme we intend to pilot will enable young people to channel their creativity and innovative ideas into current businesses and hopefully lead in the future to them creating their own business which will enrich and contribute to the 'fabric' of employment in Norfolk"

The new programme will start early in the New Year. To find out more call Robert Ashton on  01953 605000 or email Robert@robertashton.co.uk

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