The value of apprenticeship was celebrated among East Lancashire businesses at a special event held at Nelson and Colne College in the run up to National Apprenticeship Week.

College staff and senior figures from the National Apprenticeship Service welcomed some 40 current apprentice employers and business owners who were interested in learning more about how apprentices could benefit their organisation.

“We were delighted with the number and diverse range of employers who attended the event at Nelson and Colne College,” said Debbie Corcoran, Head of Apprenticeships at the National Apprenticeship Service.

“Industries including engineering, catering, health and social care, creative, digital and health and beauty were represented at the event and they all pledged to support apprenticeships in the future.

“It was only the third time we have run an event like this nationally; and we are delighted that ahead of National Apprenticeship Week we have secured the support of so many businesses in offering employment to talented youngsters across Lancashire.”

Following a meal prepared by apprentice chefs at the college’s Farringtons Restaurant, entrepreneur Andy Pickles, CEO of u-explore, spoke to guests about the importance of inspiring young people to achieve their aspirations.

Andy said: “The local economy needs skilled young people and I believe that one of the best ways to encourage them to stay locally to work is through businesses giving up some time to visit schools, mentor and offer work placements or apprenticeships. With a small investment of time, businesses can tell their stories and help schools to deliver good quality careers education to pupils.

“I also think it is important that schools, businesses and young people are educated about the right perception of apprenticeships; apprentices are now employed in a wide range of exciting industries and have fantastic career opportunities.”

Pendle MP Andrew Stephenson and Nelson and Colne College Principal Amanda Melton also spoke at the event, highlighting the continuing increase in number of apprentices in Pendle and the importance of businesses investing in apprenticeships to encourage the brightest and best students to join their businesses and help them to grow.

Nelson and Colne College will be running a number of events during National Apprenticeship Week, 9th – 13th March, to showcase its apprenticeships which are available in accounting, beauty therapy, business administration, call centre operations, catering and hospitality, childcare and teaching assistant, customer service, engineering, hairdressing and barbering, health and social care, IT, manufacturing, marketing and social media, retail and sales.