FOCUS has been spotlighted on the importance of apprenticeships.

Annual National Apprenticeship Week, now in its 11th year, is giving companies across the district the chance to celebrate and promote initiatives.

Events have included a regional graduation ceremony at the Royal Armouries in Leeds.

Among those present were apprentices supported by Bradford Council’s Skills for Work team.

Currently, the team is backing apprentices on programmes including business administration, management, customer service, public service and health and social care.

Councillor Imran Khan, the council’s portfolio holder for education, employment and skills, said: “National Apprenticeship Week is a great way in which everyone involved can raise their profile and show that apprenticeships really do work.

“We’re very proud to have over 120 apprentices currently working for the council.

“Apprenticeships can provide young people with a pathway into a high-quality job as well as bringing benefits to the businesses they work in.

“They are a vital way in which young people can learn about work while developing important skills local businesses need.”

Companies presently recruiting apprentices include Barratt Developments Yorkshire West, which incorporates David Wilson Homes.

Among its apprenticeship success stories is Joshua Whitehead, who has risen through the ranks to become site manager at the Hewenden Ridge development in Cullingworth.

Joshua, 25, started with the firm as an apprentice bricklayer eight years ago.

“My apprenticeship was brilliant as it gave me the opportunity to work with various groups in the business to gain a wide knowledge of the job role,” he said.

“I was able to get stuck in straight away, gaining hands-on experience with very skilled bricklayers.

“Without my apprenticeship, I would not have progressed with my career at the pace I have.

“It offered me the foundations necessary – and even allowed me to graduate with a degree!

“Apprenticeships open many doors, both professionally and personally, and it is brilliant to know that there are opportunities to keep developing my construction career throughout my working life.”

Barratt is presently recruiting six apprentices – five bricklayers and carpenters, and one in a commercial position.

Ian Ruthven, Yorkshire West managing director, said : “Apprenticeships are a great alternative to the traditional education routes of college or university.

“Apprentices are still learning desirable and employable skills whilst on a programme, but can avoid getting into student debt.”

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