Training partners vow to tackle ‘worst ever’ youth unemployment

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A PRINTING firm in Bletchley has become the first in the UK to join a national training organisation’s pledge to create 2,012 jobs for young people in 2012.

Printer Regal Litho, based in Bilton Road, Denbigh East, has employed local man Matthew Smith, 22, as an IT apprentice.

Apprentices at work at the MK academy

Apprentices at work at the MK academy

Training company Aspire Achieve Advance (3AAA) launched its 2012 campaign at the official opening of an apprenticeship academy in Milton Keynes in January.

Bedford College Apprenticeship Academy, in Silbury Boulevard, is a partnership between Bedford College and 3AAA.

The academy provides apprenticeship training places for up to 160 young people from the age of 16 in nationally recognised accountancy and information technology courses.

Jane Scott-Paul, chief executive of Accounting Academy Partnership (AAP), whose courses are being delivered at the college, said: “We have the worst youth unemployment since records began. We are treading on the brink of a double-dip recession, so we need some good news and this is worth celebrating.”

Some 16 new jobs have been created for aspiring young IT and accountancy professionals at the academy since the start of the year. And it boasts a 100 per cent pass rate on the accounting apprenticeship.

The partnership has been meeting employers from all sizes of companies to tell them of the benefit of taking on apprentices, even in tough economic times.

Bedford College director Sharon Chinneck said: “The 43 new jobs which have been created since we opened, as a result of that ground work, were not vacancies being advertised, but new posts where the recruitment team have shown employers how their business can benefit from engaging a bright young apprentice.”

Both Milton Keynes MPs attended the opening and spoke of their support for apprenticeships and the benefits companies can get from eager, bright and confident young people.

MK North MP Mark Lancaster said: “Apprenticeships must be demand-led by businesses and create a match between the skills they need and the jobs they need doing.”

And Iain Stewart, MP for the new city’s south constituency, said: “I am a huge supporter of apprenticeships. They are often undervalued as a career option but it should be an equally valid option for a young person to go into an apprenticeship.”

Mr Stewart added figures for Milton Keynes showed apprentices up 70 per cent. “As we look to rebuild the economy I think apprenticeships will become increasingly important.”

MK Mayor Alan Richards cut the ceremonial ribbon and said the academy could do its bit to create the entrepreneurs Milton Keynes would need to drive the local economy forward.

And Alan Corkhill, MD of Regal Litho, said following the appointment of its apprentice: “We are committed to developing the skills of our staff and are delighted to stand up and be counted as one of the first employers in the UK to join 3AAA on its challenge. Young people need all the help they can get and organisations such as 3AAA are taking the lead. It’s now up to companies like ours to provide the opportunities for young people to gain real skills and to make a valuable contribution to the wider economy.”

> See Natalee Hazelwood’s video report by visiting www.miltonkeynes.co.uk/news/business