The Chairman, a familiar figure to readers from our sister publication Business Month, referred to the Duke of York's visit to the Belfast Telegraph to launch our apprenticeships campaign, 50 Jobs in 50 Days. My distinguished colleague reminded readers of Rabbie Burns' wise words: A man's a man for a' that...the rank is but the guinea's stamp." Usually, I'd be the first to agree, but running the apprenticeships campaign – the newspaper's second – has provided an insight into Royal pulling power.
Our first apprenticeships campaign, 100 Jobs in 100 Days, occasionally required celebrity and heavyweight endorsement from people ranging from Lord Sugar, his former assistant Margaret Mountford and occasional attack dog and interviewer, Claude Littner.
But this time round, the interest engendered by the Royal visit has provoked plenty of interest among exactly the type of companies we hoped to target with our campaign.
Some are returning firms who got involved last time round, like McGreevy Engineering and Irwin Electrical Services – both of which sent their bosses and apprentices to our big launch in March. Others are newcomers like Flow Technology, GB Data NI, Diamond Electronic Systems and today's signatory, Ridgeway. Can HRH claim all the credit for their interest – and the pipeline of companies waiting to tell us their apprenticeship stories?
There's no doubt that businesses are much more open to apprenticeships now than two years ago, and it seems like they are almost in fashion. Yet HRH does deserve credit, too, for his sincere and welcome support.