Conservation chance for pioneering apprentices

From left to right. Front row: Davan Edwards, Heather Smith, Hillsborough College Principal, Cllr Julie Dore, Sheffield City Council Leader, Jenny Watts. Second row from left to'right: Blake Coates, Connor Hunt, Carlos Holman and Sophie Thomas. Third row from left to right: Hayden Richards and Kyle Lyndley

From left to right. Front row: Davan Edwards, Heather Smith, Hillsborough College Principal, Cllr Julie Dore, Sheffield City Council Leader, Jenny Watts. Second row from left to'right: Blake Coates, Connor Hunt, Carlos Holman and Sophie Thomas. Third row from left to right: Hayden Richards and Kyle Lyndley

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UNEMPLOYED young people are being given the opportunity to turn over a new leaf and learn the conservation skills that local employers need.

Eight learners have just started a new environmental conservation apprenticeship initiated by The Sheffield College in partnership with Sheffield City Council.

Before being selected for the one-year apprenticeship, the young people were out of work and not in education and training and went on to attend a Sheffield 100 Apprenticeships Scheme recognised pre-apprenticeship preparation programme at Heeley City Farm lasting seven weeks.

Now they will gain hands-on training and work experience in the outdoors with South Yorkshire experts, whilst studying for a qualification.Their tasks will include conservation work on local nature reserves, maintenance along the River Don and running events in Sheffield’s parks.

The city council’s 100 Apprenticeship Scheme is investing in providing these subsidised apprenticeship places, with matched funding from employers involved. The apprentices will be paid a full apprenticeship allowance.

Councillor Julie Dore, Sheffield City Council Leader, said: “Young people are key to Sheffield’s future and the council is determined to support young people who might otherwise find it harder to find their first job or apprenticeship place.

“I am extremely pleased that The Sheffield College has decided to take on some of our apprentices. We need to build a sustainable strong economy with a skilled workforce that is attractive to employers.

Only by doing this will Sheffield be able to compete for investment and bring the jobs of the future to our city.”

A key part of the Sheffield Apprenticeship Scheme is to create new apprenticeship opportunities with local employers by raising the profile of apprenticeships and celebrating the success of young people.

Opportunity Sheffield is a brokerage and employer programme run by the Council and part financed by the European Union which is in contact with 2,000 employers in the city to push the scheme to five key sectors including business and finance, hospitality, construction, retail and private care.

Heather Smith, Principal of Hillsborough College, which is part of The Sheffield College, added: “Apprentices are the skilled workers of tomorrow and offer employers the chance to harness new talent to help their business grow.

“Our apprenticeship success rate is higher than the national average and we are committed to enabling more learners to gain the skills that employers need, especially given the current economic climate.”

The apprentices will spend four days a week in the workplace, and one day at Hillsborough College campus to complete a Conservation Level 2 Diploma. Their employers are Sheffield City Council’s Ranger Service, the Wildlife Trust for Sheffield and Rotherham, the River Stewardship Company, Stocksbridge Steel Valley Project and Tinsley Tree Project.