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Apprenticeships a 'major asset to businesses'

A renewables supplier in Belfast has diverted its energy into apprenticeships, and vowed to take on a new recruit.

Ridgeway said it was so impressed with an engineering student placement from Belfast's Metropolitan, they have handed him a full-time apprentice position – and have embarked on the search for a second.

Their pledge brings to 22 the number of apprenticeships which will be offered to young people since the launch of the Belfast Telegraph's 50 Jobs in 50 Days campaign.

Their experience of employing 20-year-old Daryl Letman from east Belfast opened their eyes to the benefits of employing apprentices. Daryl had completed a number of engineering programmes at the Castlereagh campus of the Belfast Met but encountered difficulty when it came to securing an apprentice employer.

But after landing what was initially meant to be a two-week placement at Ridgeway, Daryl impressed management so much they kept him on – as the company's first ever apprentice. Now Ridgeway, a supplier to the engineering and renewables industry based in Belfast harbour, has pledged to take on another apprentice. Neill Killen, assistant manager at the company, said the management team soon realised the benefits of employing an apprentice after witnessing Daryl's ability and application.

The young man knew his brief placement carried the incentive of a more permanent role and after showing skill and promise, the position was extended into a full-time apprentice position. Daryl now works at Ridgeway four days a week and attends Belfast Met two half-days a week, for off-the-job engineering training.

As a result of the success of Daryl's placement, Ridgeway has decided to join in future apprenticeship schemes.

The firm is now actively working with Belfast Met to recruit a second engineering apprentice to their expanding business.

Mr Killen said: "Daryl is the first apprentice to be employed at Ridgeway. He started with us over a year ago and since his arrival it has been a real eye opener to just how beneficial employing an apprentice can be.

"He is a great asset to the business, has a tremendous work ethic and has a pleasant manner with both staff and customers.

"We are now actively working with Belfast Met to recruit another apprentice for our expanding business."

Belfast Telegraph