PICTURES: West Sussex apprentice graduation 2017

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The achievements of higher and advanced apprentices were celebrated at the second West Sussex apprentice graduation ceremony on Tuesday.

Around 65 graduates gathered at Chichester Cathedral in their gowns and mortarboards. They were awarded a ceremonial pin and certificate, having completed training that took between 12 months and four years.

West Sussex Apprentice Graduation 2017

West Sussex Apprentice Graduation 2017

The ceremony took place during the tenth anniversary of National Apprenticeship Week and as well as recognising achievements, it raised the profile of apprenticeships and their contribution to both individuals and employers.

The graduation event was organised by West Sussex County Council and the Federation of Small Businesses, with support from district and borough councils and apprenticeship training providers.

Elizabeth Flegg, employment and skills consultant at the county council, said: “The ceremony is a key part of National Apprenticeship Week and this provides us with maximum publicity to promote apprenticeships and the achievements of our businesses and their apprentices.”

Shortly before the ceremony, a new animation film which promotes apprenticeships to employers was launched at a business reception at the Novium Museum.

The reception was a good opportunity to meet and discuss the benefits of apprentices, and employers were asked to pledge to recruit more apprentices in the future.

County council leader Louise Goldsmith and Ann Swain, chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses’ West Sussex policy team, looked to the future in the foreword of the official programme.

“The landscape for apprenticeships changes from April this year with the introduction of the apprenticeship levy,” they said.

“There will be around 400 different occupations which you can train in through an apprenticeship and the new degree level apprenticeships are available heightening our future.

“Apprenticeships bring considerable value to organisations, employers, individuals and the local economy.

“Businesses across the country are increasingly realising the enormous benefits that apprenticeships create, not only in terms of developing a highly-skilled workforce but also by boosting productivity and staff retention.”

Mrs Goldsmith was particularly proud to see her own personal assistant, Clare Tivey, from Ford, graduate.

Clare took her management apprenticeship when she was personal assistant to the chief fire officer and, just one year after she completed her qualification, she was promoted to personal assistant to the county council leader.

A mother-of-two, Clare completed a level three in management at Chichester College.

She said: “At the time, I was 31 and had a three-year-old boy and a five-year-old girl. I was lucky enough to be put forward for suggested career development and I embraced it fully.

“I had excellent support from the council and the college. It gave me a lot more confidence and I was able to apply those skills when I was applying for promotion.

“I would encourage any working mum out there – don’t put things like this off, really go for. It is hard work but you definitely get out what you put in. I have been very, very lucky to have had the opportunity.”

During the ceremony, entertainment was provided by Worthing College music ensemble and singers.

Apprentice providers represented at the ceremony included Babcock, Campus Training, Central Sussex College in Crawley, Chichester College, Hawk Training, Hit Training, L’Oreal/First4Skills, New Horizons Highbury College, Northbrook College, Rewards Training, Sigta, South Downs College, Westminster Kingsway College and Worthing College.

Stephen Hillier, county cabinet member for children – start of life, said: “I am always amazed to see the incredible range of qualifications that people can gain through doing an apprenticeship. At this year’s graduation they ranged from social care and business innovation to upholstery and electro-technical systems.

“Last year the Coast to Capital region, which West Sussex is part of, saw one of the biggest increases in people taking up apprentices in the whole country. But we won’t become complacent.

“Apprenticeships offer a fabulous opportunity to earn and learn so we are hoping to see this figure increase further in the coming years.”

From April, the county council will be increasing the amount of apprenticeships across its organisation as a result of the government changes, which provide positive opportunities to develop the skills of the county’s workforce.

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