A pioneering apprenticeship scheme designed to give ambitious young people opportunities to build careers at dynamic small businesses has been launched in the West Midlands.
The Entrepreneurs Circle Apprenticeship Programme is backed by some of the UK’s leading entrepreneurs and looks set to change the way in which young people are trained for the workplace.
Skillwise, the UK apprenticeship provider, has devised and developed the unique training package with the support of the renowned Entrepreneurs Circle (EC), which will see the first 250 hand-picked apprentices begin their training next month (September).
Now, it is urging 17 to 23-year-olds from the West Midlands to apply for a coveted place on the scheme, which will see learners working for 12-14 months with one of the local businesses that have signed up to the apprenticeship programme.
Successful applicants will first undertake a rigorous 10-week traineeship, including a two-week residential at one of several Skillwise Academies across the country, learning how to deliver marketing and social media support for their new employers. Successful completion will see apprentices attaining a Level 1 certification in business administration.
This will be followed by a 12 to 14 month in-work apprenticeship, and another two-week residential course, which will see learners attain a level 2 certificate in business administration, an NVQ in business administration, and an EC post-graduate certificate in business and marketing. Young people and parents are being urged to find out more by www.mynewapprentice.co.uk/dreamjob
The scheme has already received significant support from entrepreneurs and bosses across the country.
Nigel Botterill, founder of the Entrepreneurs Circle who has launched a number of multi-million pound businesses and who is backing the Skillwise programme, said: “It’s a compelling combination. What holds most business owners back is finding the time to get stuff done – and costs of employing someone to help are often prohibitive at the start when they don’t yet have the right skill set. The Skillwise/EC apprentice programme solves this at a stroke.”
Katie Bulmer-Cooke, a former candidate on the BBC’s The Apprentice, is now a health and fitness entrepreneur and professional speaker. She
said: “This is a fantastic opportunity – if this had been around when I left school, I wouldn’t have hesitated to have jumped on board. It’s an awesome combination of experience and qualifications.”
Multi-award-winning Martin Norbury, who was voted Business Mentor of the Year 2015, described the apprenticeship programme as a “no-brainer”,
adding: “This initiative is what entrepreneurs have been looking for: the right attitude, right skills and ready to add value. It’s a fantastic concept.”
Nick Williams, director of Birmingham-based Skillwise, said the launch of the apprenticeship programme in the city and elsewhere across the West Midlands was an exciting development in the way that traineeships are provided.
“There is absolutely nothing like this on the market,” he said. “As well as being a superb opportunity for young people who want to step on to the career ladder and learn from the very best in business, it is also ideal for entrepreneurs who want to grow their companies.
“This apprenticeship will give young people the chance to gain valuable experience in a dynamic workplace and work towards recognised qualifications in social media, business administration and marketing, which are three important areas that most small business owners struggle with because they are too busy selling and developing their products and services.
“Our training package is the perfect solution and it also means that talented young people who want to begin a high-flying career can do so without the millstone of debt that comes with studying for a degree.
Demand is already very high.”
Most businesses will be eligible for government grants of between £1,500 and £3,000 towards the £6,000 annual cost of employing an apprentice.
Applicants, who must have at least maths and English GCSE at a minimum C grade, will be hand-picked by the participating businesses.
After the initial 10-week training, which businesses do not pay for, apprentices will work for 30 hours a week and will receive a weekly wage of between £100 and £200. At the end of the 14-month programme, businesses can take on their apprentice full time at the appropriate market rate.