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In conversation with George Ritchie MBE, Chair of the North East Apprenticeship Ambassadors Network

By the year 2020 there will be three million new quality apprenticeships in the UK, that’s the ambitious target set by the government.

It’s a figure that reflects the resurgence in apprenticeships across the business community. More than 2.2 million apprenticeships have been created since 2010 and that number is growing.

As a member of the North East LEP’s Apprenticeship Growth Partnership, we’re working with government to help realise that target by supporting businesses in developing more apprenticeship vacancies and higher level apprenticeships. We want to see high quality apprenticeship provision that businesses really value.

I am a passionate supporter of apprenticeships and traineeships. I believe they’re a fantastic route to work for many young people and they provide businesses with access to a talented pool of ambitious, creative and committed workers.

As Chair of the North East Apprenticeship Ambassadors Network, it’s my role to grow the apprenticeships programme in the North East by engaging employers and promoting the benefits of apprenticeships and traineeships. In the five years I’ve been in the role I’ve seen a huge step change in the value and importance employers place on apprenticeships but there’s definitely more we can do.

One of the new initiatives we’ve introduced is the North East Young Apprenticeship Ambassador Network – a collective of passionate and talented apprentices whose role it is to be the voice of apprenticeships and traineeships in the region.

As committed as I am to flying the flag for apprenticeships, I know that young people respond to advice and guidance from friends and their peers; someone like them explaining why an apprenticeship or traineeship is a great route to work is far more valuable.

That’s why you’ll be seeing members of our North East Young Apprenticeship Ambassador Network at skills events, jobs/careers fairs and delivering talks in schools and colleges to enthuse and inspire the next generation of apprentices.

One of the first events the Network was involved in was actually one of the most significant. In September this year the Rt Hon Robert Halfon MP, Minister of State at the Department for Education, visited the North East to see first hand the positive impact apprenticeships and traineeships are having amongst young people.

Rhys Goulden, a member of the North East Young Apprenticeship Ambassador Network who is currently working towards a Higher Apprenticeship in Mechanical Maintenance with Unipres UK, delivered a fantastic presentation to the Minister about the value of the apprenticeships and traineeships. Rhys did an outstanding job and the event really showed us how important the Network will be going forward.

All our young apprenticeship ambassadors go through a formal training session where they gain skills in communication, presentation and develop the self-esteem and confidence that will see them flourish in their careers. We’d like to recruit more people like Rhys to join the Network and help us raise the profile of apprenticeships amongst young people and businesses right across the North East.

If your business supports apprenticeships and traineeships, at any level, and you have a dedicated and committed member of the team you’d like to put forward to be part of the North East Young Apprenticeship Ambassador Network, I’d love to hear from you.

The Network is one of only four across the entire country and my ambition is for it to be the best. For that to happen we need more outstanding young apprentices to join us.

For more information and to put an apprentice forward to join the North East Young Apprenticeship Ambassador Network, please email me on [email protected] or call 01642 623 000.

I’m enormously proud of the all the young ambassadors involved in the Network and I look forward to working them, and others, to reach the government’s target of three million new apprenticeships by 2020.


By George Ritchie MBE
Chair of the North East Apprenticeship Ambassadors Network