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Apprenticeship EAST

A new apprenticeship scheme aims to turn around the fortunes of young people – and at the same time help small businesses across Waveney.

Laura Whittle, Corey Lark and Danny Finch have been chosen to trial the initiative, Apprenticeship EAST, which is being pioneered by Lowestoft charity Access Community Trust.

They have each had the £6,000 cost of their one-year apprenticeships met by Lowestoft-based Kingsley Healthcare and started work for the trust, which aims to promote social inclusion.

Young mother Laura, 23, is a catering apprentice in Sams Coffee House, while Corey, 17, is a maintenance apprentice, and Danny, 17, is as an administration apprentice.

The scheme means that small businesses who could not afford a full-time apprentice can employ them for the time they need – an arrangement that benefits both sides.

Trust chief executive Emma Ratzer now wants to roll out the scheme across the district, offering the services of apprentices to local businesses, and will be launching a £100,000 Enterprise EAST Fund in the new year. She hopes to meet half of the cost through a public appeal, with the rest coming from a match-funding grant application.

The fund will cover the cost of the charity employing further apprentices and assisting them with the provision of work clothes, extra training and possibly business start-up grants at the end of their courses.

Mrs Ratzer said: “Our aim is to help young people who would struggle in a mainstream apprenticeship."

“It might be that they lack a supportive family or are living with difficult home circumstances or mental health problems."

“Corey and Danny, for example, both experienced a family breakdown and are living in accommodation provided by the trust. Corey is also severely dyslexic and requires our support in numeracy and literacy.”

She said the charity had to turn away 200 people each year because of a lack of space in its teenage hostels.

“My aim is to help young people become independent and go on to thrive in the world of work without the need of any further support,” she said. “However, I also want to support local businesses because that is how the community becomes affluent."

“The aims are summed up in the title of our programme. EAST in Apprenticeship EAST stands for Employment, Ambition, Support, Transformation.”

Daya Thayan, chief executive of Kingsley Healthcare, said: “We are delighted to be sponsoring these young apprentices. Lowestoft is where we started as a company and we want to continually support the local community as we continue to grow nationally.”

"You can have them for one hour... or one year"

Trust chief executive Emma Ratzer has launched the scheme after receiving positive feedback from key players in the town and is now keen to hear from businesses interested in taking part.

She said: “Our scheme is flexible in a way that will hopefully appeal to small enterprises that could not afford a full-time apprentice but need some extra help.

“As an employer you will pay £3.50 per hour for your apprentice. You can have them for one hour, one week, one month or one year – you set your required working pattern which can be as flexible as you need it to be.”

Meanwhile, an employment mentor will be on hand to provide support to both the apprentice and employer.

Jules Shorrock, chairman of Suffolk Chamber of Commerce in Lowestoft and Waveney, said: “Apprenticeship EAST offers opportunities for businesses to support and nurture disadvantaged citizens back into paid employment. This is an initiative that we welcome and we encourage employers to get involved.”

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Our vision is to promote social inclusion for the community benefit by preventing people from becoming socially excluded, relieving the needs of those who are socially excluded and assisting them to integrate into society.