Series of high-profile events will mark National Apprenticeship Week in Plymouth
A SERIES of high-profile events are being planned to mark National Apprenticeship Week in Plymouth.
Events will be held in schools and community centres all next week and Plymouth City Council's horticulture apprentices will be creating a garden in the city centre.
It comes as figures reveal the number of apprenticeships is growing in Plymouth.
National Apprenticeship Week, from March 11 to 15, is being staged for the sixth year, and is designed to celebrate apprenticeships and the positive impact they have on individuals, businesses and the economy.
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It will coincide with The Herald's Get Hired Expo, which takes place at the Guildhall on Friday, March 15.
"There will be lots going on in Plymouth," said Bob Harrison, employer accounts manager for the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) in Plymouth.
"Apprenticeships are recognised by partners across the city, and they are willing to give up their time to promote apprenticeships and National Apprenticeship Week.
"Every year it gets bigger and bigger," he added. "This is a reflection of employers' commitment in promoting apprenticeships."
The key event, Mr Harrison said, will be a week-long project to build a garden at the Place de Brest, in the city centre.
The council's horticulture apprentices will spend all week working on the project, which will celebrate both National Apprenticeship Week and the 50th anniversary of Plymouth's twinning with the French city Brest.
The garden is due to be opened on Friday, March 15, by council leader Tudor Evans and the authority's chief executive Tracey Lee. City MPs Alison Seabeck and Gary Streeter have been invited too.
"The garden will be a feature for the rest of the season, we will be able to watch it grow," Mr Harrison said. "It's a fantastic way of showing the public what apprenticeships are all about – and it promotes the city."
On Wednesday, March 13, the national Apprenticeship Ambassadors bus will call at the Place de Brest.
It will contain representatives from employers such as Babcock, the Royal Navy, Plymouth Community Homes and the NHS.
"They will be sharing with other employers their experience of taking on an apprentice," Mr Harrison said. "And they will bring along apprentices to talk to anyone wanting to take up an apprentice."
Other events during the week will be staged at schools including Eggbuckland Community College, Hele's School, St Boniface's College, Stoke Damerel Community College, Sir John Hunt Community Sports College, Coombe Dean School and at City College Plymouth.
"These will include apprentices returning to their old schools to talk to pupils about their experiences," Mr Harrison said.
On Tuesday, March 12, Barratt Homes and Mi-Space will stage a sub-contractors breakfast event at the Halcyon Centre, in North Prospect, supported by NAS, Jobcentre Plus and Working Links.
And on Wednesday, March 13, Careers South West, in Union Street, will host taster sessions in catering, hospitality, carpentry, care work, and hair and nail beauty for potential apprentices.
The week ends with Babcock inviting schools into the dockyard to take part in a competition, and an employers' lunch at City College Plymouth.
Those coincide with The Herald's Expo, from 10am to 7pm.
"It goes to show the partnership we have with The Herald," Mr Harrison said.
He said new performance data for 2011/12 shows that both the 16-18-year-old and 19-24-year-old apprenticeship starts continue to grow in Plymouth when compared to the previous year.
"The number of apprentices completing their apprenticeship also continues to exceed national success rates which is a clear indication to the quality of apprenticeships in Plymouth," Mr Harrison said.