TRAINEE vehicle fitter Sam Hodgkiss has a vital role to play in keeping Tameside Council's fleet of vehicles on the road.
Sam, aged 18, who is in the second year of an apprenticeship, is learning his trade in the council's maintenance depot, in Stalybridge.
And on Friday (February 11, 2011) he told Stalybridge and Hyde MP Jonathan Reynolds and Tameside Council leader Cllr Kieran Quinn about his experience of the council's apprenticeship scheme.
Tameside Council currently has 55 apprentices based in a range of departments that include administration, IT, accountancy, sports development, waste management and even stone masonry.
And, in the past, many of the apprentices have gone on to find permanent employment with the council at the end of their training.
Following his visit to the maintenance depot, Mr Reynolds said: "Each of the apprenticeship programmes at the council are structured to ensure apprentices can develop the skills they need in the workplace. And they are clearly valued by apprentices as an opportunity to develop those skills, at the same time as earning a wage for the job they do.
"It's clear that Sam is already playing a significant role at the council's maintenance department, where his contribution is valued by those around him. And through his apprenticeship Sam is developing vital skills that will ensure he is well placed to secure employment in the future.
"For many, apprenticeships can be the first step on a long and successful career path. And for the organisations and businesses that offer them they can bring new talent and enthusiasm into the workforce.
"National Apprenticeship Week is an opportunity to highlight the benefits offered by apprenticeships. And I hope it will encourage other businesses and organisations to develop similar opportunities."
Nationally, in the academic year 2009/10 there were 279,700 people who began an apprenticeship. This is almost 215,000 higher than the number of apprenticeships started in 1996/7.
Mr Reynolds added: "Across the country demand for apprenticeship places still outstrips demand, but the number of places available has increased significantly since 1997. I am proud in the part the Labour Government played in increasing the number of places available."
Tameside Council leader Cllr Kieran Quinn said: "Apprentices are an integral part of our workforce so it is right that we recognise the hard work they do on our behalf.
"The council has always done everything it can to promote apprenticeships in the borough which is why we've got such a flourishing scheme and an excellent track record in finding them on the job training with the council and beyond."
The visit to the depot fell within National Apprenticeships Week, which was launched n 2008, as part of a drive to promote and showcase apprenticeships.
Published February 16, 2011