Northumberland apprenticeship programme

Northumberland apprenticeship programme

Find out about Northumberland County Council as an employer of apprenticeships, our Learning and Skills Service as an approved apprenticeship training organisation, and our services to businesses.

I'm looking for an apprenticeship

Here you will find information about what an apprenticeship is and how to get involved and apply.

What is an apprenticeship?
The apprenticeship programme is a formal training programme that is undertaken with employment. You will follow either an Apprenticeship Standard or an Apprenticeship Framework. These set of the skills, knowledge, aptitudes, and in some cases the qualifications you need to do a particular job.

Apprentices will:
  • be employed within the Council or a local business we work with
  • earn a wage not less than the minimum wage for an apprentice / my age
  • follow a structured training programme
  • receive both on and off the job training
  • develop their skills to ensure they can do the job well
As an apprentice, you’ll undertake your programme during your normal work time. Your employer will be expected to release you to study at least one day a week in our training centre as part of your paid time at work.

Although the programme can be demanding, it is also extremely rewarding and career progression for apprentices is excellent. Over 90% of our  apprentices move into a higher apprenticeship or full employment on completion. 
 
What level of apprenticeship are available?
Apprenticeships have equivalent educational levels.
Name Level Equivalent educational level
Intermediate 2 GCSE
Advanced 3 A level
Higher 4,5,6 and 7 Foundation degree and above
Degree 6 and 7 Bachelor’s or master’s degree
 
We offer Intermediate, Advanced, Higher and Degree apprenticeships. 
How are apprentices supported?
Dedicated Lecturing Team

You will meet a series of lecturers throughout your programme. 

The first lecturer you will meet will take you through the induction and initial assessment workshops. After this you will be handed on to a lecturer, who specialises in your apprenticeship area. They will stay with you for all of your programme wherever possible. They will be your coach, they will organise your off the job training, they will visit you at your job, providing advice, guidance, training and assessment. They will review your progress with you and the employer at regular intervals.

Apprenticeship Mentor Team

The apprenticeship mentor team works across Northumberland ensuring that you are supported in your workplace. There are also specialist mentors in the team who work with learners who have special educational needs or are looked after children. Their role is to ensure you are safe and happy in the workplace, you are meeting the employer’s standards and code of conduct, you are progressing well and that your welfare needs are being met. The team provide individual pastoral support, coaching and mentoring to help you succeed as well as organising extra-curricular activities for apprentices through the various phases of the programme.

Apprenticeship Support & Counselling Service by Remploy

This new free service supports apprentices who are feeling low, upset and struggling to keep up with their apprenticeship. It is completely confidential and run by fully trained professionals with expertise in mental health.

By working in partnership with Access to Work; a Job Centre Plus scheme, Remploy are delivering this service in England to apprentices who are affected by a mental health condition in the workplace.

An expert from Remploy will provide apprentices with personal, emotional wellbeing support and advice for six months, and help individuals cope better so they can concentrate on their apprenticeship. They will help develop a step-by- step support plan to keep apprentices on track and advise on some workplace adjustments.

 
How long do apprenticeships take?
The time taken to complete an apprenticeship programme depends on the apprenticeship you are following, how much experience and skill you already have and how quickly you can progress through your training.

Apprenticeships last a minimum of 12 months and normally take:
  • 12 to 15 months at level two
  • 15 to 18 months at level three
  • 18 months or more at level four and higher
How much will my apprenticeship training cost?
Apprentices are not asked for a contribution towards their training costs. The training costs will be met by the employer.
What subjects can I do?

It's much more important with Apprenticeships that we find the right career or trade for you, rather than just thinking about the subjects. However the sorts of subjects we can offer are summarised below:

BUSINESS, COMMERCE AND TECHNOLOGY

  • Business administration
  • Customer Service
  • Retail
  • Team Leading
  • Management
  • Accountancy
  • Information Technology
  • Leisure operations

CONSTRUCTION AND ENGINEERING

  • Maintenance operations
  • Highways maintenance
  • Carpentry and joinery
  • Painting and decorating
  • Fenestration
  • Roofline products
  • Fitted Interiors
  • Building maintenance
  • Bricklaying
  • Construction site supervision
  • Cycle mechanics

CREATIVE AND PERFORMING ARTS AND MEDIA

  • Digital and creative media

EDUCATION

  • Supporting teaching and learning
  • Specialist teaching support
  • Coaching and Mentoring 
  • Further education teaching
HEALTH AND CARE
  • Adult care
  • Child care: Early Years Educator and Residential 
  • Social work

HOSPITALITY AND CATERING

  • professional cookery
  • food production and cooking
  • food preparation and cooking
  • hospitality services

SCIENCES AND HUMANITIES

  • Cultural heritage
  • Horticulture 
I am already employed but need to train - can I apply for an apprenticeship?
If you are needing to train because your job role has changed, then yes you can.

Telephone the apprenticeship team on 01670 622114 or email your details to apprenticeships@northumberland.gov.uk and we will guide you through the steps to get involved in apprenticeships. 

You’ll also need confirmation from your employer that they will support you to do your apprenticeship, are willing to pay the apprenticeship training costs involved and guarantee to continue to pay your salary while you study. Once they have confirmed this, your employer will be asked to sign a contract for services for your apprenticeship training to start. 
I don't have an employer yet, how can I get an apprenticeship?

We work with employers across the area to find real job opportunities with real prospects where you can start an apprenticeship. We advertise our apprenticeship vacancies online at 

You can apply for an apprenticeship if you are:

  • 16 or over by the end of the summer holidays
  • living in England
  • ​not in full-time education
We welcome applications from all ages. 

You can apply for an apprenticeship any time. 

How to apply

There are 3 steps to applying for an apprenticeship.

  1. Search for an apprenticeship with the apprenticeship service where you will see all vacancies from all providers
  2. Sign in or create an account on the apprenticeship service site.
  3. Search for the vacancy you want to apply for. Complete and submit your application.

     



 
I’ve applied for an apprenticeship vacancy, what happens next?
Once you’ve submitted your online application it will be sent direct to us if it is a vacancy we are offering. We’ll assess it with the employer.

To be considered for an interview, you must first attend a screening day where we will look at your:
  • English, maths, ICT and problem solving skills
  • attitudes towards equality, diversity, safeguarding, health and safety
You will then receive a one-to-one interview to see if you are ready for the demands of an apprenticeship. Interviews are competitive against other applicants.

If successful, you will be offered conditional employment, subject to satisfactory references, medical clearances and where relevant a DBS clearnance. Once we have these confirmed and you are cleared to start work, a start date will be offered by the employer and we will give you an induction on your first day. The employer will pay your salary from the first day on the programme.

If you are unsuccessful, we will advise you on alternative apprenticeships available or other suitable training programmes.
Where can I get more information on apprenticeships?
More information is available from our Apprenticeships and Traineeships team. You can cal 01670 622114 or email apprenticeships@northumberland.gov.uk.
Will I be paid?
Yes. New apprentices will be paid at or above the national minimum wage.

If you’re an existing member of staff in a company and you start an apprenticeship, you will be paid your normal salary while you work and study.

Click here for current information about the national minimum wage.

Apprentices are often paid monthly, directly into a nominated bank account. You’ll need to budget for your first month until you receive your first pay.

If you currently receive benefits and want to be employed as an apprentice, you may wish to discuss the impact this could have on your benefits with the Department for Work and Pensions. 

I'm a business interested in taking on an apprentice

Most employers believe taking on an apprentice is a sound long-term business investment. More than two thirds confirm employing an apprentice improves overall business performance and productivity. How can your business can get involved?

Did you know?

  • 96% of Apprenticeship employers say their business has benefited
  • 72% of employers say Apprenticeships have improved productivity
  • Apprenticeships cover more than 170 industries
  • There are over 1500 Apprenticeship job roles
Apprenticeships are at the heart of small and large businesses as employers realise the value of both on and off the job training. As well as motivated, skilled employees, apprenticeships deliver:
  • Improved Productivity
  • Low Recruitment Costs
  • Increased Profits
  • Better Team Morale

Apprenticeships now cover a vast number of roles and industries, giving talented people the chance to realise their potential within businesses that really value them. Northumberland Learning and Skills Service in an Approved Apprenticeship Training Organisation and can support all stage of apprenticeships from recruitment to celebrating your apprentice’s success.

Your starting point is contacting our Apprenticeship and Traineeship team on 01670 622114 who will guide you what getting involved in apprenticeships can mean for your business.  

Large employers funding for apprenticeships

Don't get caught out: find out how the new Apprenticeship Levy, which came into effect in April, will affect your business and staff.

What exactly is the Apprenticeship Levy?

The Apprenticeship Levy, which came into effect on 6 April, is a tax on all UK employers that will support the funding of apprenticeships. Both private and public companies that pay more than £3 million in wages are now liable to pay 0.5 per cent of their paybill into a fund. Employers can then use this fund – to which the government adds an extra 10 per cent (in England) – to spend on apprenticeship training.

How will it work?

Companies pay the levy through PAYE on a monthly basis. Each employer has an allowance of £15,000 to offset against their levy payment – which will work in a similar way to the personal tax allowance. Approximately 1.3 per cent of UK employers will be liable to pay the levy. Companies will have 24 months to make use of their apprenticeship funds.

Who will benefit?

These reforms mean the government will now fund apprenticeships for all ages, including existing staff if they wish to upskill via an apprenticeship, as well as those aged 16 to 18.  Employers and providers training 16 to 18-year-olds or 19 to 24-year-olds leaving care or who have a Local Authority Education and Healthcare plan will also receive an extra £1,000 per person.

Will all apprenticeships cost the same?

No – there are 15 different bands of funding available ranging from £1,500 to £27,000.  We can provide you with our costs for delivering the apprenticeships you are looking for.  

We can also provide the additional training and cover the costs to support apprentices who need to meet the minimum requirements in maths and English.

What kind of apprenticeships can firms offer?

A range of levels are available from Level 2, normally semi-skilled staff, up to Level 7 postgraduate qualifications. The important thing is to make sure that the apprenticeship and level you choose meets the needs of your business and is in tune with how you are anticipating your business will develop in future. We can help you to look at appropriate apprenticeship roles and picking the right training programme. 

How will employers find a training provider to support their apprenticeship training?

A Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers has been set up by the government to help employers find and compare training providers who are approved to deliver the new apprenticeship standards. Northumberland County Council is on the Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers. 

How can I get more information?
Please call our Apprenticeship Team on 01670 622114 or email us at apprenticeships@northumberland.gov.uk. 

 

Small business funding for apprenticeships

Employers whose pay bill is less than £3 million a year will have 90% of the training costs of an apprentice paid by the government.  The employer will have to pay 10% towards costs for those aged 19 and over. For smaller companies with fewer than 50 employees, the government will pay all the costs for new apprentices aged 16 to 18 and also for those aged 19 to 24 who are leaving care or have a Local Authority and Healthcare plan. 

How will it work?

Companies will need to work with an Approved Apprenticeship Training Organisation who has a funding contract to deliver apprenticeships on behalf of the government.  You will contract with the organisation to deliver apprenticeships for you and will agree the price of the apprenticeship. You will need to arrange to pay the organisation your 10% contribution for the training costs and and the organisation will claim the 90% from government funding. You will also need to pay your apprentice at least the minimum wage and give them a contract of employment.

Will all apprenticeships cost the same?

No – there are 15 different bands of funding available ranging from £1,500 to £27,000.  We can provide you with our costs for delivering the apprenticeships you are looking for.  

We can also provide the additional training and cover the costs to support apprentices who need to meet the minimum requirements in maths and English.

What kind of apprenticeships can firms offer?

A range of levels are available from Level 2, normally semi-skilled staff, up to Level 7 postgraduate qualifications. The important thing is to make sure that the apprenticeship and level you choose meets the needs of your business and is in tune with how you are anticipating your business will develop in future. We can help you to look at appropriate apprenticeship roles and picking the right training programme. 

How will employers find a training provider to support their apprenticeship training?

A Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers has been set up by the government to help employers find and compare training providers who are approved to deliver the new apprenticeship standards. Northumberland County Council is on the Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers and has a funding contract to deliver apprenticeships..  

How can I get more information?
Please call our Apprenticeship Team on 01670 622114 or email us at apprenticeships@northumberland.gov.uk. 

We got involved, here's our story
The Dales School, Blyth

“As a headteacher of a school for children with special educational needs, I require staff with very specific skills.
In recent years it has become clear that available staff, with the required skills, are rare. As a result, we have on occasion employed staff who are qualified but do not have the specific skills and experience we need.

“We are keen to support those who wish to develop skills by offering placements while they work towards a qualification. 

"The issue of experienced and skilled staff has been magnified as the school continues to grow. As a result, we decided to train our own potential staff. Our target group was young people who had little or no experience but were enthusiastic about working with children with special needs.

“Fortunately, we contacted the employer engagement team at Northumberland learning and skills service to assist us. We agreed what we needed could be addressed via apprenticeships for teaching assistants.

“Once we had outlined our intentions, systems were quickly put in place to help us identify suitable candidates. The service provided was invaluable from start to finish, covering everything, including agreeing job and person specifications, advertising, application-sifting and informing those selected for interview. 

"Following interviews and selection, the service provided inductions, a clearly defined apprenticeship programme and the ongoing support of a training officer to visit our apprentices during their year of training.

“I look forward to developing our relationship with the employer engagement team at Northumberland learning and skills service. It’s expected that, together, we can offer high-quality training experiences to young people who will become the knowledgeable and effective future workforce of special educational needs (SEN) learning provision."

At the learning and skills service, we are thrilled to support this venture with the Dales School and wish the staff and apprentices great success together.

​Woodhorn Heritage Museum and Archive Centre

Woodhorn Heritage Museum and Archive Centre might thrive on preserving the past but when it comes to developing the skills of its workforce, its approach is bang up-to-date.

Placing itself at the heart of a forward-thinking recruitment and training campaign, the museum recently appointed its first apprentices. The move forms part of a wider strategy by Northumberland County Council to inject cultural heritage skills across the organisation.

Nineteen-year-old Robin Brownlee-Sayers took up a post within the museum’s archives team through an apprenticeship.

Jo Patterson, senior archives assistant, explains: “Robin has really got to grips with the job and has already become a valuable member of our archives team. He’s involved in a whole host of duties which our archivists don’t always have time to do.

"This brings added value to our visitors and is also helping to generate additional income for the museum thanks to the fees we charge for some of these extra services.

“I’m a real advocate for the benefits of apprenticeships. I would recommend this type of structured recruitment and training programme to all employers. It brings new blood into the organisation and allows you to mould people to your specialist areas of work.”
I'm ready to explore apprenticeships for my business, what do I do next?
How can I get more information?
Please call our Apprenticeship Team on 01670 622114 or email us at apprenticeships@northumberland.gov.uk. 

Northumberland County Council - employer of apprenticeships

The Northumberland County Council apprenticeship programme welcomes over 200 new apprentices every year.

Northumberland County Council is proud to be involved in apprenticeships across all of its teams. Apprenticeships have helped us to find new talent, build capacity, deal with risk and increase diversity in the workplace. In recruitment terms, it's the obvious route to take as we need to support as many young people to come through our organisations, as they will be the custodians of our county and the leaders and managers in the future.  We offer pathways into trades, careers and degrees, starting and level 2 and progressing up to level 6. 

We are ambitious and aim to have 220 apprentices in our workforce in 2017 rising to 400 apprentices by 2020. 

Apprentices have helped us to improve the service we offer, from customer service to catering, highways to housing, planning to procurement, social care to strategic estates. And that's not all. We have a great family of services across the Council, all eager to find that next perfect apprentice.  

We take great pride in seeing our apprentices flourish but also the pride they take in being given the opportunity and seizing the chance to be the best.

Find out what an apprenticeship involves in the Council and if it's right for you

In the sections below, we've split the family of services in the Council into groups to help you understand what we do and how you might fit in to the Council as an apprentice. It will help you to choose if the apprenticeships we have match with your ambitions and skills. 

You will be given a contract of employment for the purposes of completing an apprenticeship. You will be expected to abide by our code of conduct, policies and procedures.

You will work in one of the key Council departments. You may stay in one role, or we may move you around a variety of roles in your team so that you can broaden your experience and help you specialise later on. 20% of your time will be spent off the job learning. 

You will be paid the national apprenticeship rate of pay in your first year and the national minimum or living wage for your age group from year 2 onwards. The current National Minimum Wage rates can be found at https://www.gov.uk/national-minimum-wage-rates If you are successful in gaining a full post in the Council you would move on to the salary that the post is graded and advertised at, starting at the bottom of the salary grade. 
 

We provide extra support to help you progress into a positive next step when you complete your apprenticeships. Over 90% of apprentices go into full employment or start a higher level apprenticeship. 

Human, health and social services

These jobs are all about helping people and cover a range of services from working with children to caring for the elderly. If you’ve got a caring personality and want to support people at difficult times in their lives, there could be something here for you.

 

Jobs in this sector:

  • Social Care and Social Work

  • Arranging care, support and rehabilitation for vulnerable adults and older people

  • Hospital and health liaison and safe return from hospital to home

  • Equipment loan and wheelchair services

  • Occupational therapy

  • Learning disability day-care, independent living and specialist residential care

  • Services for disabled children and young people

  • Residential care homes

  • Fostering and Adoption Services

  • Family Support

  • Adolescent Service and Youth Work

  • Accommodation and Support

  • Safeguarding

  • Children’s Centres and Early Help

  • Public health and promotion

 
Education and training

You’ll be using your communication skills and knowledge to help people develop and learn in many of these jobs. Whether you like working with children or adults, this is a sector where you can use your knowledge and skills to help others. You could be working in a classroom or learning environment or in an important support role behind the scenes in one of our specialist teams.

 

Jobs in this sector:

  • Primary & Secondary Schools: teaching support, administration and business, school catering, cleaning or caretaking

  • Early Years

  • Speech and language

  • Portage

  • E-learning

  • School Support services and support for school governors

  • Music Service

  • Equality and Diversity support and projects

  • Special educational needs

  • Sensory Support

  • Education Support for Looked after Children

  • Education Welfare including, Safeguarding, Health and Inclusion

  • Adult Learning Service

  • Employability Service

  • Careers Guidance Service

  • Educational Psychology

 
Environment, Highways and Transportation

Many jobs in this family involve fixing things, understanding how machines work and thinking practically.  These jobs could interest you if you like working with your hands, being outside, solving problems or have good organisational skills. There could be something for you whether you’re a theory or practical person.

 

Jobs in this sector:

  • Waste management, collection and recycling

  • Winter Maintenance (Support)

  • Flooding and extreme weather response

  • Street Cleansing

  • Grounds Maintenance

  • Parks & Urban Open Spaces

  • Countryside Management and Public Rights of Way

  • Cemeteries and Crematoria, Markets, Public Conveniences

  • Fleet Management

  • Security and postal courier service

  • Highways, cycleways and bridges maintenance and management

  • Parking and streetworks

  • Highway and transport improvement

  • Road safety  

  • Transport services for schools and communities

 
Housing, property and construction

This sector offers a variety of roles, from engineering to bricklaying. If you love a practical role and are interested in how things work and are put together, you could look to the construction roles. But there are great supporting roles too: in depots and offices across the county, supporting the hands-on teams.

 

Jobs in this sector:

  • Helping people find housing options

  • Supporting Refugee and Asylum Seekers

  • Managing tenancies and leases on properties

  • Housing Maintenance Help Desk

  • Construction Repairs and Maintenance Service to 8500 council houses

  • Property Maintenance for council and school buildings

  • Capital Project support

  • Cleaning, caretaking and management of council buildings

 
HR, Finance, Accounting and Legal Services

This sector offers a variety of roles. You’ll need to be good with numbers, have excellent organisational, business and people skills. In the area of legal services you'll need an investigative mind and the ability to understand large amounts of complex information.

 

Jobs in this sector:

  • Corporate accountants

  • Democratic Services to support elections and the work of councillors

  • Revenues, Benefits and Customer Services

  • Employee Services

  • Financial support

  • Information Services technical help desk and IT developer, networking and support roles

  • Registrars of births, deaths and marriages  

  • Legal Services

  • Audit and insurance  

  • Procurement

  • Human Resources including Workforce Planning  

  • Learning and Development  

  • Communications, marketing and media  

  • Health and Safety

 
Fire and rescue

To work in this sector you’ll need to have excellent communication skills, the ability to operate a range of equipment, leadership and problem-solving skills and be good with numbers IT and report writing. You’ll need to be a calm in a crisis person.

 

  • Emergency Response

  • Community Safety

  • Legislative Fire Safety  

  • Civil Contingencies

  • Reduce crime and disorder

 

 
Hospitality

If you’ve got a passion for food and drink there could be something here for you. Whether you want to sell, cook or serve food there’s a job in this sector where you can put your interests into practice.   
 

  • Professional cookery in council and school buildings

  • School Supervisor

  • Kitchen Porters and Chefs

  • Restaurant and front of house customer service

  • Counter service assistant

 

 


 
Management and administration

Managers work in many different job sectors. You’ll need organisational, communication and leaderships skills, along with the ability to solve problems and keep calm under pressure. If this sounds like you, a job in management would suit. Many administrative and clerical jobs are about following procedures, checking things and keeping records. You’ll like this kind of work if you’re an organised person with good attention to detail.

 
  • Business Management and Administration in all of the above areas.

Is the Council currently recruiting?
Yes we are. 

We are currently recruiting for our Autumn 2017 intake and are looking for applicants who are at least 16 years old and have completed Year 11 at school. 

We welcome young people and adults on our programme. 

If you are interested in joining us, please send us your current CV and a covering email explaining what your ambitions are and your interest in working for us. Send you CV to apprenticeships@northumberland.gov.uk

 

Case studies from apprentices in Northumberland

Previous apprentices share their experiences here. If you are interested in joining us, please send us your current CV and a covering email explaining what your ambitions are and your interest in working for us.

Send your CV to apprenticeships@northumberland.gov.uk

 

Chelsea – business administration
Chelsea Trewick, business administration level three, started her career at Northumberland County Council as a business administration apprentice level two.

While demonstrating excellent office skills, her long-term goal is to be a primary school teacher. Chelsea progressed to level three and gained a position with Whitley Memorial School, which will provide excellent experience to support her long-term goal.

Chelsea said: “I feel really lucky to work in the school. The apprenticeship programme has helped me to progress my administration skills and to develop skills that will support my future career.”
Lauren - business administration
Lauren Allison worked towards her business administration level three with us. Lauren worked in the chief executive's office, supporting the work of the Olympics 2012 torch relay throughout Northumberland.

Nigel Walsh, county tourism and cultural development manager, said: “The role Lauren played in supporting the 2012 programme was invaluable. She was a great ambassador for the apprenticeship programme and her ability and enthusiasm was recognised throughout the team.”

Lauren said: “My apprenticeship has increased my confidence. I developed my organisational and communication skills to support my administrative role. The experience I’ve gained will support my career in the future.”
Nathan – business and administration
Nathan opted to leave high school after taking his AS Levels. He wasn’t convinced A Levels and university was the route he wanted to follow. He applied for a vacancy on the government’s Find an Apprenticeship site and was successful in gaining a place within Northumberland County Council’s family and disability service.

“I wanted to acquire real job skills and experience and the apprenticeship programme has provided plenty of both,” said Nathan. He has made rapid progress and achieved his NVQ level two in business and administration in record time.

He is now under way on his level three and continues to impress his work colleagues and NVQ assessor with his positive attitude. Nathan has built a website for Aiming High for Disabled Children, which has added more new skills to his repertoire and CV.

He said: “I’m getting paid while I train and gain qualifications. I see this as a genuine route to a good career either in local government or the private sector.”
Sophie & Annie - early years in childcare
Sophie Fairless and Annie Stoker are currently working towards their level two in early years in childcare apprenticeship programme with us.

They were interviewed for a placement at the Sure Start children’s centre in Hexham. Such was their enthusiasm and desire to learn and work in the early year’s field that manager Lesley Grieve was unable to choose between either candidates and employed them both.

Annie and Sophie said: “We’ve been overwhelmed by the support and learning prospects we have accessed as part of a very well managed and proactive team.

"The apprenticeship is a great start for us, as we are getting involved in a wide range of roles that involve different approaches and skill bases each time. This is certainly giving us a real foundation to build on and we will have many skills for future employment.”
Matthew - information communication technology

When computer wizard Matthew Turner left school five years ago he didn’t plan on going back. Thanks to his apprenticeship, led by our Learning and Skills service, Matthew is back at his old school supporting pupils and teachers with their IT queries, as an information technology (IT) technician.

Matthew has gained valuable experience in the workplace at The Blyth School, Northumberland, and a nationally recognised qualification in information communication technology (ICT).

“I really loved my school days. IT was my favourite subject and I got an A* at GCSE. When I left school I started a college course but decided to apply for an apprenticeship, as I prefer to learn in a more practical, hands-on way. Being able to combine my favourite subject with ongoing training and a rewarding career is the icing on the cake,” said Matthew.

Bridget Knowles, headteacher at The Blyth School, credits Matthew for his hard work. She said: “I wasn’t in this post when Matthew studied here but everyone speaks very highly of him. It’s therefore great to welcome him back as a member of our team.

“Matthew is the first apprentice to be employed by our school and we are very impressed with his progress. His role has become very important to us. As well as supporting more than 1,400 pupils and 180 staff, Matthew fixes hardware, installs software and carries out server maintenance. He also helps with strategic decisions, from planning new IT systems to helping us choose equipment and advising us on software.

“I would certainly recommend apprenticeships to other employers. As well as an opportunity to recruit someone who is keen to learn new skills, apprentices can be embedded in the culture of your organisation. That means they are comfortable with your protocols, procedures and particular nuances.”

Apprenticeship case studies from Northumberland businesses

Find out how local employers have found the experience of hiring an apprentice.

The Dales School
“As a headteacher of a school for children with special educational needs, I require staff with very specific skills.
In recent years it has become clear that available staff, with the required skills, are rare. As a result, we have on occasion employed staff who are qualified but do not have the specific skills and experience we need.

“We are keen to support those who wish to develop skills by offering placements while they work towards a qualification. 

"The issue of experienced and skilled staff has been magnified as the school continues to grow. As a result, we decided to train our own potential staff. Our target group was young people who had little or no experience but were enthusiastic about working with children with special needs.

“Fortunately, we contacted the employer engagement team at Northumberland learning and skills service to assist us. We agreed what we needed could be addressed via apprenticeships for teaching assistants.

“Once we had outlined our intentions, systems were quickly put in place to help us identify suitable candidates. The service provided was invaluable from start to finish, covering everything, including agreeing job and person specifications, advertising, application-sifting and informing those selected for interview. 

"Following interviews and selection, the service provided inductions, a clearly defined apprenticeship programme and the ongoing support of a training officer to visit our apprentices during their year of training.

“I look forward to developing our relationship with the employer engagement team at Northumberland learning and skills service. It’s expected that, together, we can offer high-quality training experiences to young people who will become the knowledgeable and effective future workforce of special educational needs (SEN) learning provision."

At the learning and skills service, we are thrilled to support this venture with the Dales School and wish the staff and apprentices great success together.
Woodhorn Heritage Museum & Archive Centre, Ashington
Woodhorn Heritage Museum and Archive Centre might thrive on preserving the past but when it comes to developing the skills of its workforce, its approach is bang up-to-date.

Placing itself at the heart of a forward-thinking recruitment and training campaign, the museum recently appointed its first apprentices. The move forms part of a wider strategy by Northumberland County Council to inject cultural heritage skills across the organisation.

Nineteen-year-old Robin Brownlee-Sayers took up a post within the museum’s archives team through an apprenticeship.

Jo Patterson, senior archives assistant, explains: “Robin has really got to grips with the job and has already become a valuable member of our archives team. He’s involved in a whole host of duties which our archivists don’t always have time to do.

"This brings added value to our visitors and is also helping to generate additional income for the museum thanks to the fees we charge for some of these extra services.

“I’m a real advocate for the benefits of apprenticeships. I would recommend this type of structured recruitment and training programme to all employers. It brings new blood into the organisation and allows you to mould people to your specialist areas of work.”