50 Jobs in 50 Days: A Royal seal of approval from the Duke of York as our jobs drive gathers pace
The Duke of York has expressed "delight" at the progress of the Belfast Telegraph's 50 Jobs in 50 Days campaign, to find more young people valuable on-the-job training through apprenticeships.
Prince Andrew also voiced gratitude to the companies who have joined in the Northern Ireland-wide effort to invest in the future of the younger generation.
The prince helped launched the newspaper's campaign in March, which aims to encourage companies of all sizes to help equip the youth with essential skills through apprenticeships.
The royal commendation has been echoed by Employment Minister Dr Stephen Farry, whose department has just closed a consultation into a review on the future of apprenticeships in Northern Ireland.
Dr Farry said employment schemes like apprenticeships played a key role in helping to rebuild the economy.
As the campaign reaches day 30 today, His Royal Highness told the Belfast Telegraph that he was "delighted to see fantastic progress over the last 30 days".
He said: "Thank you to all of the companies that have signed up.
"Looking forward to reaching 50 new apprentices in 50 days."
Dr Stephen Farry said: "I commend the Belfast Telegraph's 50 jobs in 50 days campaign and its achievements to date.
"Initiatives like these are essential in raising the profile of apprenticeships.
"Apprenticeships develop specialist skills and can play a key role in rebuilding our local economy by providing employers with an appropriately skilled workforce.
"My department's review of apprenticeships consultation closed earlier this week and I look forward to reviewing all responses to ensure that our training programmes match the needs of the local economy and will deliver gold standard apprenticeships."
So far, since its launch by the prince on March 11, and in the newspaper the following day, some 22 apprenticeships have been hired into companies across diverse industries.
BT was the first business to lend its support, and already runs a well-established apprenticeships scheme.
The telecoms giant was followed by McGreevy Engineering in Ballygowan, which has taken one new apprentice.
Managing director Ignatius McGreevy said an uplift in the Ballygowan firm's business had prompted it to take on new blood.
Tyre pressure systems manufacturer Schrader in Antrim pledged to take on three people later this year, thanks to its major motoring contracts.
And IT giant Fujitsu also signed up with a pledge to take on nine apprentices for its operations in Londonderry and Belfast.
Alarm systems company Diamond Electronic Systems is due to take on two, while Irwin Electrical Systems is due to take on two.
Flow Technology and GB Data NI's commitment to take one each brings the total to 21 – while an announcement from renewables supplier Ridgeway today brings the total number of apprenticeships on day 30 to 22.
The campaign continues.