On the job training is the key

FOR apprentices the chance to earn while they learn can be an important factor in choosing to enter the workforce or go to college.

In 2010, the Department for Work and Pensions’ (DWP) minimum wage for apprentices was raised, with those under the age of 19 pocketing £2.60 per hour for their first year in work.

The average take-home for an apprentice is £170 per week.

While their counterparts in employment also enjoyed a rise in the national minimum wage, apprentices on the lower wage receive a wealth of added benefits in addition to their wage.

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Most importantly, apprenticeships are more likely to lead to a full-time job at the end, compared to purely academic study.

18-year-olds Nyoka Johnson and Heather Wales are both on an apprenticeship scheme provided by newly established firm Icoco Training, in Cleckheaton.

Nyoka, from Raikes Lane, Birstall, is on an advanced level three hairdressing course.

After leaving school, she worked in a salon and completed a hair dressing course, but was stuck in a catch-22 situation – how do you gain more experience, when few businesses are willing to take the risk on a novice?

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“I found out about this apprenticeship through the JobCentre Plus and I got a place here,” she said.

“It has made me improve my skills and meet new people.

“The fact I am earning while I learn is also a big plus for me. A lot of people my age are earning money, but won’t have the chance to learn as they go.”

Heather, of Nibshaw Lane, Gomersal, is studying for a level two hair dressing

apprenticeship. Like Nyoka, she combines her study at the Icoco Training base, with 16 hours work at a salon.

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She said: “I had an idea that I wanted to become a hair dresser and I went to Connexions and they said I need to improve my confidence first.

“Through Connexions I went on another course and got a bit more confident. Since I started my apprenticeship here in November, my confidence has improved even more because I’ve got to talk to clients. It’s been really useful.”