Whickham apprentice travelling up the ladder to career success

A Whickham teenager has taken the first step on his travels to career success after landing an apprenticeship with a holiday wear retailer at Newcastle Airport thanks to the North East Apprenticeship Company (NEAC).

Eighteen-year-old Joe Wilson has been placed by NEAC as the new management trainee at Traveller – a retail outlet which sells clothes and accessories to holiday makers.

Joe left Gatehead’s Emmanuel College part way through A Levels in Business Studies and ICT after deciding academic qualifications didn’t suit him.

After hearing about the North East Apprenticeship Company (NEAC) from a friend he applied to find a training place.

He said: “I didn’t like school, I just wasn’t interested. I completed my first year of sixth form then started to look around for something else. I rang NEAC and they started looking for a placement for me.

“I really enjoy my new role. It’s totally different to school – I get treated like an adult. I‘m not sure yet what I want to do in the future but I think it will be something in retail.

“I’m glad that I have had the opportunity to become an apprentice because it will give me the skills and experience needed for a successful future working in the service sector.”

Joe is on placement for at least 12 months and is working towards an NVQ Level 3 in Management.

His boss and Traveller company director Giles Mortimer said: “After just six weeks with us Joe is already making his mark and attending management meetings.

“He was a bit shy at first but we chatted to him and had a laugh. We liked the fact that at a young age he already had experience of working while he was at school.

“We didn’t just want anybody; we wanted somebody with something about them and had some initiative.

“We knew we had to have someone who could take on more responsibility due to the fact that the e-commerce side of our business is taking off and our new website is due for launch very soon.”

Giles was also pleased that the NEAC helped with the expense of employing someone at the airport – which requires special training in fire and security risks.

“They helped overcome problems and have recommended the right sort of person as an apprentice for our business. We think that by working up the ranks Joe will turn into a better employee in the long run.”

Giles and business partner Ian Chapman set up Traveller 12 years ago and have been based at the airport for five of them. Joe is the latest member of staff – the ninth – and despite the recession the retailer is expanding into online sales with the launch of www.holidaywardrobe.com.

Giles added: “It has been a difficult year. We were closed during the volcano ash cloud problems but we just kept on working and sales are as strong as ever. We are looking forward to the website launch and are pleased to have Joe on board to help.”

More than 30 North East companies have already signed up with NEAC since it was launched and 450 potential apprentices have also registered for placements.

The company has a regional brief to expand apprenticeship positions, tackling the skills gap to create more than 1000 new apprentice jobs in the next two years, particularly among small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

Managing director Paul Champion said: “We are seeing a lot of interest from employers like Giles who want to give young people the chance of a career and to pass on their expertise and experience to future generations.

“The North East Apprenticeship Company can not only recruit young people for placements but support employers across a range of sectors with advice and administrative services which make it quick, easy and beneficial to use apprentices.”

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