Prime Minister David Cameron has thrown his weight behind our campaign to create 100 apprenticeships in 100 days.
Mr Cameron said apprenticeships were “absolutely key” to growing the economy and wished the Belfast Telegraph “all the best” for the crusade.
He praised our efforts as the ‘100 in 100’ campaign enters its sixth week — just under halfway through the race to create 100 apprenticeships.
Companies large and small — from Translink, which employs 4,000 people, to a hairdresser employing 11 people — have vowed to create more opportunities after hearing about our campaign.
Many have said they have been weighing up the pros and cons of apprenticeships for some time but that our campaign, which highlights the benefits to companies of creating jobs through apprenticeships, such as subsidised or free training and monetary incentives from Government, has spurred them to take action.
Mr Cameron said he was enthusiastic for the aims of the initiative.
The Conservative Party leader said: “I was delighted to hear about the Belfast Telegraph’s 100 Jobs In 100 Days campaign to promote and support apprenticeships.
“Apprenticeships are absolutely key to growing our economy, giving young people the chance to learn a trade and helping to build the highly skilled workforce that our businesses need.
“This campaign will help employers in Northern Ireland develop the enthusiastic, talented and loyal employees they require, as well as helping budding apprentices to gain the skills to boost their future careers.
“In short, apprenticeships are good for people who want to get ahead, good for business and good for the country. It’s great to see the Belfast Telegraph getting behind young people in Northern Ireland and working with local businesses in this way.
“I wish the paper all the best for the campaign.”
The growing momentum of our campaign comes as unemployment grows among 18-to-24-year-olds in Northern Ireland.
According to the Labour Force Survey for February to April this year, the unemployment rate among that age group is 21% — up 4.6% over the year.
Northern Bank chief economist Angela McGowan said: “Apprenticeship schemes can provide employers with a healthy stream of skilled labour supply.”
Peter Maud, of Hair Peace on Holywood Road in east Belfast, today is announcing that it will be looking for two new apprentices (see page 37).
The salon’s owner, Peter Casey, said that out of its 11 staff, six — including himself — began their careers as apprentices.