MORE than 50 businesses from across North Wales attended a business breakfast at the Quay Hotel in Deganwy to learn about the benefits of taking on apprentices.

Early Careers Programmes manager at Airbus, Gavin Jones, and director and founder of Flintshire-based web design and online marketing company Tree Frog Creative, Chris Grice, both spoke at the breakfast meeting organised jointly by the North Wales Business Club and the Institute of Directors North Wales.

Gavin said Airbus is firmly committed to the apprenticeship programme and believes apprentices are essential to the success of any business.

“Over the past 30 years, Airbus has trained over 4,000 apprentices across the UK and 70 per cent of our senior managers started out as apprentices themselves,” he said.

“We offer a range of apprenticeships, from undergraduate programmes which are the equivalent to a BEng with Honours degree to craft apprenticeships through which you can become a skilled craftsman.

“The Welsh Government provides funding support to cover some of the training costs and assessments which means that you’re not losing out financially while you dedicate time to mentoring your apprentice and training them in the skills required by your business.

“Clearly you have to spend a lot of time initially on coaching, guiding and tutoring the apprentices, but this investment certainly pays off as the experience and qualifications they acquire help your business to become much more productive and competitive in the long-run.”

Julie James AM, Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology, said: “Supporting events like the business breakfast in Deganwy allows us to highlight the positive impact that apprenticeships can have on individuals, businesses and the wider economy, as well as the support that we can offer to businesses that are considering taking on an apprentice.

“Several of the businesses that attended said they would now consider offering an apprenticeship as they could see how it was possible to reap long term benefits from getting involved in the programme.”

The Apprenticeship Programme is funded by the Welsh Government with support from the European Social Fund. There are currently more than 50,000 people in Wales undertaking an apprenticeship on the Welsh Government’s Apprenticeship Programme and demand for both apprenticeships and higher apprenticeships is on the rise year on year.