Duke of York backs apprenticeship organisation

His Royal Highness the Duke of York gave his backing to a new organisation to boost the growth and development of Apprenticeship Training Agencies that help young people into full-time employment.

The Confederation of Apprenticeship Training Agencies (COATA), an independent umbrella organisation for Apprenticeship Training Agencies (ATAs), was launched on Monday to coincide with National Apprenticeship Week. It aims to help businesses grow and reduce youth unemployment.

COATA currently consists of 10 ATAs from around the UK that recruit, employ and train young people, while they are working with a host company. An ATA directly employs a young person and therefore takes on all the risks and administration normally involved in taking on a new member of staff. To date COATA members have employed more than 2,500 apprentices.

Its members currently employ more than 1,000 young people helping 800 businesses. Apprentices who complete their apprenticeships have an 80 to 90 per cent chance of getting a full-time job with the company they were placed with. 

HRH The Duke of York and patron of COATA said: “Too often employers want to employ young people with a minimum of three years experience. How are young people going to get this experience, if they don’t get a chance to be employed in the first place? 

“COATA is looking to overthrow that by encouraging young people to come through their doors, take the employment risk for a period of time to enable young people to get on that ladder of experience.” 

23 year-old Jessica Paddison, from Hull was helped on to the ladder of experience when she applied for a telecoms apprenticeship vacancy that she saw on Yorkshire and Humberside Apprenticeship Training Agency (YHATA) website. Jessica had trained as an electrician but was made redundant from her job in November 2010. She applied and got a place on the two-year telecoms engineering apprenticeship with Kingston Communications (KC) –a Hull based phone and broadband provider.

Jessica, who’s the only female engineer in her team, said: “I’ve always been interested in telecoms. It’s always fascinated me how a telephone works, even from a very young age I used to take the telephone apart and take a look at it.”

A typical day for Jessica involves climbing up five metre poles to fix telephone and broadband faults on the network.

 She’s been offered a full-time job with the company from April, when she will begin working on a new project installing superfast broadband, while continuing to work towards her NVQ level 3 in IT Professionals.  She said: “Apprenticeships are the way forward – there’s not that many jobs out there and training is the best way to ensure getting a job.”

Helen Roberts, HR Manager at Kingston Communciations, said: “Jessica is an asset to the company and a role model to other young women who might be considering a career as an engineer.  Apprentices can add so much value to a business.”

Kingston Communications took on eight apprentices in a variety of roles including data and systems analysis, publishing production and marketing in November 2010. Helen said: “We wanted to take on new staff but didn’t know how to do it, so we worked with our local provider – Yorkshire Humberside Apprenticeship Training Agency (YHATA) – who managed the entire process for us and we haven’t looked back since.”

COATA will ensure that all ATAs in the UK meet core quality criteria and companies can be assured that they are getting a reputable product when they take on a young person employed by an ATA registered with COATA. It will implement a quality standard and provide a forum to discuss issues of common concern.