Celebrating our apprentices in Chesterfield
Sometimes national celebrations are specifically relevant to a local area, and that is the case with this year’s National Apprenticeship Week, taking place from 3 to 7 February.
One could argue that Chesterfield celebrates apprenticeships 52 weeks a year as we were the first, and I believe still remain the only place, to declare itself an Apprentice Town nearly three years ago.
Apprentices and apprenticeships are fundamental to Chesterfield’s ongoing success.
There is more than £1billion worth of investment, development and redevelopment taking place in and around the town which, it is estimated, will create will bring the opportunity to access up to 10,000 new jobs. I for one want local people and school leavers to benefit from these jobs, but they can only do this if they have the right skills and are aware of the opportunities available.
The Chesterfield & North Derbyshire Employability and Skills Conference on 26 February will, I hope, further this conversation. The conference brings together business and education leaders to discuss how as a town we can develop our young people in order to improve the employability and skills offering for the future.
Let’s not wait for the conference however. If you’re a parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, teacher, friend – make sure young people around you are aware of apprenticeships and the value they bring to their personal and professional development and the town’s prosperity.
The theme for this year’s National Apprenticeship Week is ‘Look Beyond’. It celebrates the diversity and value that apprenticeships bring to employers, apprentices and communities across England today. From highlighting the breadth of industries and roles available to the talent and energy apprentices bring into the workplace. Let’s all ‘look beyond’ when we’re giving young people post 16 careers advice.
More than 14,000 students in North Derbyshire are set to gain their GCSE and A Level qualifications in the next five years. As these young people weigh up their futures and decide how best to forge their career path, I believe it’s vital that apprenticeships are presented as viable options alongside University and A Levels, to pupils in schools.
We all have a role to play in ensuring that Chesterfield is future-proofed. Having a skilled workforce is key to ensure our town continues to thrive for generations to come.