Electronics firm Schrader has signed up to the Belfast Telegraph's campaign to encourage companies to take on apprentices, vowing to take on three workers.
The Antrim-based company, which specialises in manufacturing brake monitoring systems for major car clients, said it had a long-running apprenticeship scheme which helped bring a "pipeline of talent" into the business.
Schrader's commitment brings to 19 the number of apprenticeship pledges which have been made during our campaign.
Training manager Gail Smith said the maintenance technician apprentice posts – for a four-year scheme – will be advertised in the area's newspapers the week after Easter.
Four years was needed to train apprentices fully, Ms Smith said. "There are a number of qualifications they have to complete.
"It's quite a complex role and quite a lot of upskilling is involved.
"There is a lot of learning on the job, too."
The new recruits start working in the firm over the summer-time, and will begin engineering courses at Northern Regional College in Ballymena in September.
Ms Smith said increasingly highly-qualified young people had been applying for their apprenticeship schemes.
While the minimum requirement remained four GCSEs at grade C or above, including English and Maths, students with A-Level passes were also coming forward.
"With the economic downturn, a lot of people are looking at apprenticeships as an alternative to university and a way of not getting into so much debt."
But she added: "When it comes to interview, we just want to find the best person for the job."
The course embraces both an NVQ programme and BTEC Higher National Diploma qualifications.
Schrader employs 1,080 people worldwide, with 1,000 working at its premises in Antrim and Carrickfergus.
Its main clients are General Motors, Chrysler and Ford.
Over the next seven weeks, this newspaper will galvanise companies of all sizes in Northern Ireland to take on apprentices as a means of investing in the future of the youth, while helping hone the skills businesses need to thrive in the future.
The Belfast Telegraph will work with companies, colleges and the Department for Employment and Learning to create 50 apprenticeships in 50 days – a target it will reach by May 1.
1 If you are an employer who would like to take on an apprentice as part of our campaign, please let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
2 You can also contact the Department for Employment and Learning to find out about the apprenticeship system in Northern Ireland, on 0800 028 4161.
3 You can find your apprentice by advertising in the usual way through the press or job centres or by going to a training supplier, which will have details of young people looking for apprentices.
4 The Department for Employment and Learning will fund the costs of the 'off-the-job' training in all apprentice frameworks for the under-25s. Those over 25 will have 50% of their training paid for – but only if they are training in one of a defined list of economically important sectors, which includes the food and drink industry, IT companies and creative and digital media operations.
5 An incentive payment is also offered to employers of apprentices who successfully complete the programme.
Our 50 Jobs in 50 Days countdown began on March 12 after the campaign was launched by the Duke of York. Watch this space next week to hear more about other companies who are this week readying themselves to sign up.
If you are an employer who wants to take on an apprentice as part of our campaign, please let us know by telephoning Margaret Canning on 028 9026 4443 or emailing email@example.com