Firms are urged to take on apprentices

Larne Skills Development representatives Colin Bonnes, Alan McLorie, Laurence Wilson, May Wilson, Cathy Maguire and Mary and Malachy Delargy. INLT 42-310-PR
Larne Skills Development representatives Colin Bonnes, Alan McLorie, Laurence Wilson, May Wilson, Cathy Maguire and Mary and Malachy Delargy. INLT 42-310-PR
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LARNE’S talented, hard-working, committed and resilient entrepreneurs have been encouraged to increase their worforce at minimal or no cost by taking on apprentices and trainees.

In front of a capacity audience at the 2012 Larne Business Awards in the McGarel Town Hall on Thursday 11 October, employers were appraised of the variety of schemes aimed at reducing the worrying rate of youth unemployment within the borough.

Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster, guest speaker, endorsed pleas from Larne Borough Council and Larne Skills Development, urging that if small firms took on just one more employee each it would have a massive impact on the local economy.

Larne Borough Council chief executive Geraldine McGahey’s appeal was aimed at business and government.

She said: “With continued imagination - and some more, necessary support - if every business here was to take only one more employee, what a difference that would make to those of you here and to the local economy.”

Mrs McGahey said Larne Borough Council was proud to partner local enterprise company Ledcom in the delivery of programmes aimed helping younger people to find jobs, including the Youth Opportunities Programme, the Young Enterprise Programme, a recent jobs fair and the ongoing Larne Apprentice competition.

With Government assistance, employers who could offer a place to a young person should be able to do so “cost neutral” or for minimum outlay.

Larne Skills Development co-director Laurence Wilson said the training company works with around 60 employers who take on apprentices and trainees.

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He told the business leaders present: “Most of these are long-lasting relationships, because the same employers are coming back to us and asking if we have another trainee.

“At very little cost to you, it gives a young person a chance,” he added.

Mrs Foster told the enterprises shortlisted for awards: “You are examples to other businesses in the region and across Northern Ireland as to what can be achieved if you focus on innovation and opportunities.”

Urging them to consider what employment opportunities they could offer young people, Mrs Foster added: “I have always said that if every small or medium-sized enterprise took on just one or two extra people it would make a tremendous difference to our economy.”