Since 2011, the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has made skills a priority area of work in its efforts to grow in the local economy. Key initiatives have included funding the £12m CEMAST Skills centre at the Solent Enterprise Zone, providing a £100,000 Young Entrepreneur Fund and making £1.5m available through the Solent Employer Ownership of Skills Programme.
Now the LEP is leading by example in encouraging more employers to provide work-based learning for the Solent's young people and, over the last year, has taken on an Apprentice and Graduate Intern.
Daniel Hughes, 22, joined the Solent LEP on a level 3 Business and Administration apprenticeship in April 2014 and hopes to progress to a level 4 apprenticeship with the LEP in 2015.
"Throughout secondary education I had never considered Apprenticeships to be a viable option, but after 4 years of entry level retail work I wanted to find a way to improve my career prospects. Thankfully Solent LEP were looking to expand their team with a new apprentice, and after interviewing me decided that I was motivated enough for the role! The LEP has given me a wide range of experience that I wouldn't have been able to get in other organisations; working with influential businesses and local authorities on a daily basis. I am looking forward to expanding my skill set even further over the coming year."
Briony Biddle, 23, graduated from University in 2013 and joined the LEP on an Event Management Internship in August 2014.
"Nowadays for young people it's difficult to find paid internships that enable you to gain work experience and be able to afford to live at the same time. I'm so grateful to the Solent LEP for giving me opportunities to organise our business support and consultation events. I'm loving every minute of it."
Anne-Marie Mountifield, Solent LEP Chief Executive, said:
"Providing employment opportunities for young people is critical to developing the skills of our future workforce, but offering apprenticeships and internships has also proved to be invaluable to the work of the LEP itself. The contribution that both Dan and Briony make to the team is extremely important and they help bring fresh ideas and innovative approaches to the work that we do. I would encourage all Solent employers to look at opportunities to take on apprentices and interns where possible to help grow their businesses. Dan is now the third apprentice that we have taken on at the LEP and we will be working with both Dan and Briony to shape our future apprenticeship and internship programmes for the coming years."
Find out more about the support on offer to help your business take on an Apprentice or Graduate at www.solentgrowthhub.co.uk.