Storytelling, sandcastles and shrink wrapping were the order of the day for the Principal of Nelson and Colne College and Pendle’s MP as they celebrated National Apprenticeship Week.

Amanda Melton and Andrew Stephenson visited two Pendle apprentice employers where they had the opportunity to speak to apprentices in their working environments and get stuck in to some work themselves.

First stop was Walton Lane Nursery School and Children’s Centre which has eight apprentices doing child care qualifications with the college.

While Andrew sat reading The Gruffalo to a group of three and four year olds, Amanda was digging with their friends in the sandpit and chatting with apprentice Nikki Hickman about her role.

Nikki (29) said: “I started here voluntary and was then offered a job in the nursery’s Rocking Horse Club. I’m now full-time in the nursery school and have completed Level 2 and 3 qualifications in Child Care. I love my job and to gain experience and qualifications at the same time is amazing.

“My younger sister, Leanne, also works here and she has completed apprenticeships Levels 2 and 3; she has been promoted to team leader and is now working towards a degree with Nelson and Colne College.”

Angela Woodward, deputy head, said: “In our experience, employing young people as apprentices enables us to develop them to our high standards and, in turn, they appreciate the opportunity they have been given and really do give it their all.”

Next stop was Innova Solutions, Trawden, a company which supplies high strength bonding tape and eco-adhesives to the sign industry.

The company has two apprentices; Daniel Lord (22), who works in the warehouse, and Max Foxcroft (17), a business administration apprentice working in the office.

Amanda and Andrew were given a quick lesson in picking orders before having a go at shrink wrapping under Daniel’s instruction.

Linda Barrowclough, Operations Director, said: “Having apprentices gives you a really warm feeling that you are offering young people in the area good opportunities and prospects to grow within the company.”

Glenn Dunleavey, owner added: “I’ll never forget the person who gave me my first opportunity as a young lad and now as an employer myself it is important that we do the same.”

Amanda said of her visits: “It was really good to witness just how much both the apprentices and employers value the apprenticeship process. Here are our community’s young people, full of passion for their work, learning from their peers and gaining important qualifications at the same time.

“We have some 700 apprentices in various job roles throughout Pendle and Burnley and have seen them grow within the companies in which they are employed.”

Andrew added: “It is vital that we upskill our young people and provide jobs in the communities where they live; if we fail to give the opportunities they are looking for, they will look elsewhere. Seeing these young people take the first step on their career path and speaking with employers passionate about apprenticeships is a true indicator that apprenticeships do work, and work well.”