Support for apprenticeship scheme recognised

By Sembcorp PR Department
10 February 2012
Sembcorp Utilities UK


Sembcorp rounded off National Apprenticeship Week (6th-10th February) by sponsoring a major celebration of a hugely successful apprentice recruitment scheme.

The Tees Valley Apprenticeship Programme (TVAP) Awards honoured the best of the area’s young apprentices and the dedication and commitment to apprenticeships shown by local employers.

Around 175 people – including large industrial employers and small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) plus apprentices and their families – attended the event at Rockliffe Hall, Hurworth, near Darlington.

The audience heard that TVAP had been set up early in 2010 as a public and private sector initiative to protect 150 apprentices deemed ‘at risk’ of not concluding their apprenticeship as a result of a string of closure announcements in the local steel and chemicals industries.

Costing £1.82 million and with Sembcorp managerial expertise at its core, it has proved immensely successful not only in finding other sponsors for the at risk young people - effectively enabling them to complete their apprenticeships - but also in creating a further 149 new apprenticeships.

Also set an initial target of engaging 60 local employers, it has actually involved 134 to date including 80 SMEs and 43 firms who have never employed an apprentice before.

“It has exceeded everyone’s wildest expectations and proved a phenomenal success for businesses throughout the Tees Valley,” said George Ritchie, Sembcorp Industries Senior Vice President for HR in the western hemisphere.

Mr Ritchie, the chairman of TVAP for the past two years and who was recently appointed chairman of the North East regional ambassadors for apprenticeships with the National Apprenticeship Service, told the audience how the programme was now seen as model of public and private sector cooperation and something that with additional support could be extended more broadly throughout the North East in the coming years.

With TVAP funding set to come to an end by April, efforts are now underway – supported by three Tees Valley MPs Ian Swales, Tom Blenkinsop and Ian Wright – to persuade the UK Government to find an alternative form of funding that will enable the scheme to continue for a further two years, by which time it should be self sustaining.

Mr Ritchie added: “All the parties involved believe there is still some way to go in really embedding the many benefits of apprenticeships into the consciousness of many of the wider region’s employers, particularly those in small and medium sized businesses where the decision to engage an apprentice can be a major one. However we feel it is part of our responsibility to creating and sustaining jobs in this area to take this successful scheme a stage further.” 

The wide range of partner organisations involved in TVAP have included the National Skills Academy for the Process Industries (NSAPI) through which it has been managed, the National Apprenticeship Service, major industrial companies such as Sembcorp, SABIC and Lotte Chemical and training providers TTE and Semta.

Mr Ritchie’s personal role in the success of the scheme was praised at the celebration event by Dr Philip Jones of NSAPI, who said: “George and Sembcorp have been the driving force behind the success of this scheme and we owe them a huge debt of gratitude for the passion and the sheer commitment they have given to this process.”

The picture shows Richard Noble, the guest speaker at the NSAPI celebration event and the former World Land Speed Record Holder (centre) with (left to right) Scott Taylor, Sembcorp Business Development Engineering Manager; Redcar MP Ian Swales; Jane Atkinson Sembcorp Vice President Utilities Operations and George Ritchie.
 

They are viewing a model of Richard’s Bloodhound SSC jet and rocket engined vehicle which it is hoped will break the 1,000 mph barrier in the next few years inspiring future generations of engineers in the process.
 
 
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