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THE National Apprenticeship Service, MP Stephen Lloyd and the Eastbourne Herald are launching a new campaign that challenges Eastbourne-based employers to find 100 new apprenticeship places in 100 days.

Apprenticeships offer young people a chance to start their career by learning a new skill and gaining a recognised qualification.

They also earn a wage while completing their training.

Employers benefit from gaining employees who are trained to industry standards and bring loyalty, productivity and creative thinking to their business.

There’s no doubt that trained staff give businesses a competitive edge.

The challenge is to provide more opportunity for young people in Eastbourne looking for their first job by asking employers to help us generate 100 new apprenticeship places.

The 100 Challenge is being supported by Eastbourne Borough Council, East Sussex County Council and training providers Baldwin Training (Training Providers South East), Freedom Leisure Training, JTL, Smart Training, Sussex Coast College, and Sussex Downs College.

Rachel McKellar, National Apprenticeship Service director, said, “Eastbourne employers have reaped the benefit of apprentices for many years but we are keen to increase the number of apprenticeship places offered to young people in particular.

“It can be hard to get that first job – an apprenticeship offers the chance to learn a skill from scratch and gain a qualification.

“Many employers are still under the myth that apprentices only work in traditional trades, but there are more than 200 different job roles offered as apprenticeships including marketing, business administration and customer service.

“These are skills that every business needs to grow and prosper.”

Eastbourne MP Stephen Lloyd has given his backing to the campaign. He said, “This challenge is part of my mission to transform the local economy, ensuring that Eastbourne and Willingdon continue to buck the national trend.

“The initiative was launched on Friday, May 20, at Eastbourne Town Hall, with an event attended by close to 100 employers.

“At the event there were 38 Apprenticeships pledged, which was a fantastic and overwhelming start.

“When I was elected I stated that my first and main priority would be the local economy, to secure jobs and ensure our town is best placed to deal with the impending effects of the tough but necessary cuts in government spending.

“The coalition’s apprenticeship scheme is designed to increase both the number and the quality of jobs available. Apprenticeships can provide a career, a career with prospects, and an opportunity to grow and develop in a trade or profession.

“They are also good for businesses, providing a cost-effective way for employers to grow and retain their own talent. What was particularly clear to me at the launch event was the great sense of loyalty the apprentices, who addressed the audience, felt towards their employers.

“Apprenticeships reduce recruitment costs and staff turnover while improving motivation and productivity.

“Statistics show that 88 per cent of employers who employ apprentices believe they lead to a more satisfied workforce.

“If Eastbourne and Willingdon is to continue to buck the trend, if we want to secure jobs and ensure our town is best placed to deal with the effects of public spending cuts, then I need your help.

“I need you to spread the word as much as possible about the Challenge, and what we’re all trying to achieve.

“I need you to speak to your bosses about the advantages of hiring apprentices, and if you’re a local employer, please consider hiring an apprentice.

“Help me help Eastbourne by being part of the 100 Apprenticeships in 100 days Challenge.”

Taking on an apprentice is not as difficult as you might think.

If you’re thinking of recruiting for a new position then why not take part in this challenge and offer the place to an apprentice.

The National Apprenticeship Service will talk through the options with you and put you in touch with local training providers.

There is a free advertising service on the Apprenticeships website to help you find the right person for the job saving you recruitment costs. Your training provider will manage the whole process for you from posting your advert online to assessing the apprentice throughout their training.

If you are looking for an apprenticeship vacancy. you can search and apply online for all opportunities by logging on to the website www.apprenticeships.org.uk

• To find out more about apprenticeships and how you can take part in the 100 Challenge, visit www.apprenticeships.org.uk or call 08000 150 600.

• Apprenticeships are available at entry, intermediate and higher levels

• Training can take between one and four years to complete depending on the job role and the level

• The government funds the training for all 16 to 18 year olds

• The employer pays the apprentice a wage, typically £100 a week

• Employers can advertise for apprentices free of charge online

• Many go on to managerial positions

• More information is available online, at apprenticeships.org.uk