Apprentice boost for Lowestoft as businesses benefit from new scheme
BUSINESSES in Waveney are to benefit from a new �762,000 scheme to create new opportunities for apprentices.
The announcement was made this week when Chloe Smith, economic secretary to the treasury, visited AKD engineering in Lowestoft to officially launch the initiative, which is expected to create 200 new jobs across Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex.
The scheme has been funded with �24m from the Coastal Communities Fund and will provide grants of �2,500 to businesses taking on an apprentice within the energy sector.
Meanwhile, a second project – known as the RAK Maritime Project – has been given �757,00 to provide maritime training to 63 young people within the renewable energy industry in East Anglia.
AKD Engineering – a parts manufacturer for the energy sector – currently employs 11 apprentices within its 120-strong workforce. The company, based at Horn Hill, is forecasted to make a �15m turnover this year.
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Martin Jolley, managing director at AKD Engineering, praised the government's efforts to encourage companies to take on more apprentices.
'What we look for as a supply chain is a sustainable business going forward,' he said. 'We have been looking for more apprentices now than we have ever done. But we have to recognise that there is a massive skills shortage as well.
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'The more help the government offers industry, the more industry can propagate itself – helping to put more people back into the work place.
'It is the first step in a long road, but we are taking that first step and from our point of view it is great that we can be a part of that and be recognised.'
The bid for funding from the Coastal Communities Fund was put together by the East Coast Energy Skills Partnership, which includes Skills for Energy, Norfolk County Council, Suffolk County Council and Essex County Council.
Miss Smith, the MP for Norwich North, said: 'I am thrilled with East Anglia's success in winning grants from the fund and to be in Lowestoft to meet young people who are already benefiting from the valuable experience of an apprenticeship in the energy sector.
'These projects will equip young people with the skills they need to get a head start in finding work and boost East Anglia's already growing reputation as a national hub in renewable energy.'
Among the councils involved in the project are Waveney, Suffolk Coastal, Great Yarmouth, King's Lynn and West Norfolk, and North Norfolk.
Where possible, the project will focus on the area's most deprived communities, including Kirkley in Lowestoft and Nelson in Great Yarmouth.