Young Talents

Young Talents


It’s an oft-quoted fact, but there is no getting away from it – Bradford is officially the youngest city in the UK – and because of that, creating opportunities for young people is key.

The percentage of the population under 16 of 23.7 per cent is around five per cent higher than the national average.

For that reason, apprenticeships remain vitally important as a way of bringing this young workforce into the district’s economy and harnessing it to help drive that economy forward.

Education and training providers and companies that recognise the role that apprentices must play are now gearing up for the high-profile events that will mark National Apprenticeship Week, which is set to be earlier than ever this year.

The week-long celebration of apprenticeships across England is set to take place between February 3 and 7 this year.

“I’m delighted that despite the turbulence of the Apprenticeship Refroms we have been able to maintain our national position.”

Richard Swires- Craven College Apprenticeship Manager

Local education providers like Craven College, Skipton, will be among those organising events to highlight the work they do, as will the many firms locally who strongly and passionately believe in the apprenticeship ethos.

In 2019 Craven College, was ranked first for the second year running for Overall Apprenticeship Achievement in the North of England and third in the whole of England.

More than 650 apprentices take part in in its Ofsted-rated Outstanding programme.

Apprenticeships manager Richard Swires said: ‘I’m delighted that despite the turbulence of the Apprenticeship Reforms we have been able to maintain our national position.

“It reflects the commitment and adaptability of all those involved in the delivery of apprenticeships and the strong support of our employers. We look forward to successfully supporting many more young people into training and employment and offering expert advice and support to our ever-expanding network of employers.”

One of those is Squashed Pixel, a Keighley-based online design company that has clients across the globe.

Operations director Claire Gatenby said: “As a technical company that strives for the highest quality for our clients we were a bit nervous about taking on an apprentice but at the same time we’re keen to nurture new talent.”

The company turned to Craven College, and say it exceeded their expectations in providing a high quality candidate in Sonny Adams.

“He has just successfully completed his course and he is a permanent member of our development team now and an asset to our company,” said Claire.

“Throughout the last year Craven College have not only supported Sonny in his course but have been there for us as a company new to this process, ensuring we met all requirements without impeding on the running of our day to day business. We continue to work with Craven College and are currently looking at other roles within the business that could be appropriate for apprenticeships.”

Sonny decided to pursue an apprenticeship on the successful completion of a Computer Science Extended Diploma at Craven College, and it has given him a real understanding of how real life works.

Sonny said: “I was attracted to an apprenticeship in the first place as I liked the idea of learning on the job and putting everything that I had learned at College into practice.

“I saw that there were opportunities in the computing industry and wanted to take full advantage of them. I chose Craven College because of facilities it has to offer and it was one of the only colleges that has an Outstanding Ofsted review for apprenticeships.

“This apprenticeship has helped me to understand more about how the world works and what life in the working world is like. I have really enjoyed seeing myself improve every day.”

On a much larger scale, Bradford-based laundry chemicals manufacturer Christeyns is another company that believes fervently in the importance of apprenticeships.

Managing director Nick Garthwaite said he would urge any companies that had doubts about using apprentices for whatever reason to put them to one side.

“Apprentices are without any shadow of doubt excellent for business, in our company they have helped us make significant positive change in so many ways,” he said.

“Almost 10 years ago we had a workforce with an age demographic that had a strong emphasis on the 50-year plus age group with nothing coming in at the bottom to prepare us for the future, we have changed this and now we have a much more balanced demographic which has prepared us well for the future.

“Out of a workforce of 140 last year at our peak we had 10 apprentices plus one intern.

“I have heard other business leaders say something along the lines of ‘we’ve tried an apprentice but it didn’t work out’ or even ‘these young people aren’t prepared to work’, if that’s your view please don’t bother, you will not be doing them or you any favours.”

Nick said that it was up to the business to embrace the programme to ensure it works successfully for both parties.

“A successful apprentice programme demands that you as businesses create a stimulating and fulfilling model, these young people need guidance and true mentors, I promise you that the rewards are well worth the effort,” he said.

“Our apprentices have helped us focus on creating an ‘on-boarding’ process that we now use for any and all new employees, within a very short space of time they are contributing positively to the company. During 2019, working with Bradford University we employed our first Degree Apprentice role in Chemical Engineering.

“All our apprentices will tell you ‘we are learning while earning’, achieving academic and vocational qualifications and all are looking forward to excellent and rewarding careers with Christeyns.

“If you haven’t employed an apprentice yet, then do it, you won’t regret it.”

Apprenticeship Week will see engagement and events in schools and colleges. Many current and former apprentices will go back to school to tell their story, attracting the next generation of apprentices, so they too can fire up their future career.

Running for 13 years, National Apprenticeship Week has brought together apprenticeship supporters from across the country, with MPs, ambassadors, apprentices, training providers and top employers involved in recognising the value and importance of apprenticeships.

For NAW2020 the Education and Skills Funding Agency, the Government organisation which runs the scheme, wants even more people to get behind the week, to build on last year’s success.

For the first time, the week, which will this year have the theme “Making Impact”, has been extended to include the weekend, giving the entire apprenticeship community more opportunity to get involved with activities.

The agency said it is encouraging the apprenticeship community to get behind the week in a number of ways.

Employers are being urged to support our Making Impact theme by hosting events in the workplace, with parent panels, workplace tours, apprentice and manager Q&As and presentations from current and past apprentices. Employers can also join the #AskAnEmployer Q&A on Twitter, taking place from 12 to 2pm on Thursday 6 February Apprentices can encourage their employer to host an event for potential apprentices and parents and take part in our social media activity by sharing graphics and content with your followers. Apprentices can also join the #Ask An Apprentice Q&A on Twitter, taking place from 12 to 2pm on Wednesday, February 5.

Teachers can join the Big Assembly broadcast, taking place on February 3 and host a parents evening with experts, and parents can: share experiences of having a child complete an apprenticeship and the benefits they’ve seen it deliver.

To find out what events are taking place in the district, go to the NAW Events map at