Apprentice sparkles in new role!

Deer sparkles as new jewellery apprentice

A Norton teenager has beaten off stiff competition to win a gem of an apprenticeship with up and coming jewellery company Rock ‘n Rose – thanks to the North East Apprenticeship Company (NEAC).

Megan Deer, 16, started her apprenticeship in customer service this week after being chosen from a list of 36 candidates.

The online jewellers – which supplies celebrities and X Factor stars with bespoke fashion accessories and has been featured in glossy magazines – was started in 2007 by sisters Jess and Emily Lathan from Stockton.

All the items sold are handmade and handcrafted by the two-strong team and the business has grown at such a rate they decided they needed an apprentice to train up as part of their team.

Now the sought after retailer, which boasts celebrity clients such as Pixie Lott, is set to expand further into specialised bridal accessories after moving its operation to new premises at the Durham Tees Valley Business Centre on Orde Wingate Way last August.

Jess said: “We had grown the business rapidly working from home and realised that when we moved we’d need an extra pair of hands to meet demand.

“We approached the North East Apprenticeship Company via Business Link to find someone who we could bring on board to learn a trade while helping us with customer demand.

“We found the process of working with the NEAC great. They sifted through dozens of applications before sending us a short list from which we interviewed two.

“We chose Megan because she is meticulous, enthusiastic and hopes to pursue a career in the jewellery business. We hope she will stay with the business.

“One of the things I worried about was delegating to a new member of staff and hoping they were going meet the standards we set as a company. But Megan is a perfectionist; I think she will work out great for us.”

Megan added: “I decided not to go to college as I think I wasn’t interested in studying all day long every week.

“So, I applied for the apprenticeship online – it was really easy to do. Then I got the interview and I’m really thrilled they picked me as I really wanted the apprenticeship.

“I love it because I’m very much a ‘hands on’ person. I am already learning new people skills and hope to maybe one day study jewellery design and retailing.”

Almost 50 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 young entrepreneurs like Jess and Emily who want to take on young people to learn a trade and pass on specialist skills.

“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.”

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

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.”

Tim Lamb and NEAC,bringing business into schools programme.






Apprenticeship experts go back to school


Experts from a company which finds apprentices for regional companies have gone back to school to teach the latest generation of students the skills required to succeed in business.

The North East Apprenticeship Company’s (NEAC) Judith Jackson and Tim Lamb visited St Joseph’s RC Comprehensive School, Hebburn today (Monday 7th Feb) to mark the start of National Apprenticeship Week 2011 (7 – 11 February).

The event aims to highlight the talents and skills of apprentices and celebrate the value of apprenticeships.

Tim – who is the general manager of the Metrocentre and NEAC’s first ambassador – promoted the benefits of apprenticeships, sharing his positive experiences and how they have shaped his own career.

They explained how an apprenticeship can provide that important first step on the ladder to career success.

Possessing a positive attitude, being confident and well organised, as well as being good with people, were just some of the tips given to the students, many of who were thinking about how they could improve their chances of getting a job when they leave school later this year.

Tim explained how his career had began when he became an apprentice in the parts department at Mill Garages when he was 16-years-old. This paved the way for a successful career in customer service based industries culminating in becoming general manager of Eldon Square before taking up his current job at the MetroCentre.

“As a former apprentice myself, there’s no better way to learn a trade and gain some valuable skills than through an apprenticeship. It certainly helped me to get where I am today.

It’s also interesting is to see the sheer variety of apprenticeships now available to young people keen to get on in life.

“From business admin and bricklaying through to the more unusual like falconry and designing computer games and websites, there’s a whole new world of opportunity for open to ambitious and go ahead school leavers.”

School Students said: “Tim and Judith’s advice was very helpful because I had been thinking about what I was going to do when I leave school this summer.

“I definitely think that an apprenticeship might be a possibility as not only gain I gain some skills an employer wants but also continue to student for a useful qualification.”

NEAC, which has a regional brief to expand apprenticeship positions, aims to tackle the skills gap by creating more than 1,000 new apprentice jobs by 2012, particularly among small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

More than 150 companies have already signed up with the NEAC since it was launched and more than 400 potential apprentices have registered for placements.

Visit or email Tel: 0191 490 2453.

You’re Hired. First day at work for Catherine McKinnell MP’s New NEAC Apprentice

Labour MP for Newcastle North, Catherine McKinnell, has today welcomed her new apprentice, 16-year old
Charlene Curry, to her first day at work in National Apprenticeship Week.

Catherine’s Apprenticeships and Skills Bill aims to dramatically increase the numbers of apprenticeships in the UK using the tool of public procurement. The Bill receives its second reading in Parliament this Friday (11th February), but Catherine is leading from the front by hiring an apprentice in her constituency office in Westerhope, Newcastle.

Charlene Curry, from Newbiggin Hall in Newcastle, will complete a Business Administration qualification whilst gaining work experience in the office of her local Member of Parliament. The new apprentice, who has been placed by the North East Apprenticeship Company, will be involved in a variety of tasks to help ensure the smooth running of the office, including answering the telephone, opening post, ordering stationery, filing and dealing with enquiries from constituents.

Catherine McKinnell said:

“It was a real pleasure to welcome Charlene to work this morning on the first day of National Apprenticeship Week. I believe she will be a huge asset to my constituency office whilst offering her the opportunity to gain a qualification while she works.

“I am passionate about the importance of apprenticeships for both employers and employees, and for the country as a whole. They provide a structured career path, whilst also helping to develop the skills we need if our economy is to compete nationally and internationally. That is why I introduced my Apprenticeships and Skills Bill into Parliament, for which support continues to grow – with backing received from Ed Miliband, Lord Sugar, the TUC, the Federation of Small Businesses, the North East Chamber of Commerce, Unison, Unite, the GMB, UCATT, NUS, the Association of Colleges, the Federation of Master Builders and the Electrical Contractors’ Association.”

Charlene has just completed an NVQ in customer service working on an NHS contract and in her interview really impressed Catherine with her insightful responses and friendly manner.

On her first day at work Charlene Curry, Catherine McKinnell’s new apprentice, said:

“I am really looking forward to working in the office of my local Member of Parliament. I was interested in completing an apprenticeship so I could get work experience while I gain a qualification and this is a great opportunity. In my spare time I volunteer for Skimstone – a local charity working with young people – and I look forward to helping Catherine with her work in the local community.”

Please support Catherine McKinnell MP Apprenticeship Bill this Friday

Catherine McKinnell MP has the second reading of her apprenticeship bill on Friday (please see earlier post)
As with anything that is important it needs as much support as possible. Catherine and her team have made it really easy to support the bill. Just copy the letter below and send it to John Hayes MP.
Let’s start and collectively share the responsibility for our young people and our future skill needs.


It’s as easy as that!

John Hayes MP
Minister of State
Department for Business, Innovation & Skills
1 Victoria Street

Support Catherine McKinnell MP Apprenticeships and Skills Bill

Dear John Hayes MP

I am writing to you to ask you to back the Apprenticeships and Skills (Public Procurement) Bill and help it to progress through parliament at its second reading on Friday 11 February 2011.

I am pleased to hear that you have been supportive of the bill and its aim to increase the number of high quality apprenticeships available by requiring companies awarded public sector contracts to commit to providing apprenticeships and skills training to young people. It is also encouraging to know that the Conservative led Government has pledged to increase the number of apprenticeships.

The Apprenticeships and Skills (Public Procurement) Bill is urgently needed and will help to achieve the Government’s pledge by:

• Creating thousands of new apprenticeships at no cost to the public purse.
• Bridging the employment and training shortfall. This is important as apprenticeships significantly reduce the burden of skills training upon the public purse.
• Placing Britain in a strong position to emerge from the global recession with the skills needed to grow the economy.
• Relieving pressure upon universities – currently further education is oversubscribed, the apprenticeship bill will challenge the perception that university education is the only route to success
• Benefiting Business – Small and Medium Businesses benefit as Apprenticeships engender loyalty as well as giving them access to highly trained workers, which avoids the expense and the problems of skill shortages.

I would be grateful if you could respond and let me know that you will continue to support the bill and help it to become law.


(Insert your name and address including postcode here.)

All set up and ready to go

At the TUC apprenticeship conference today. Stand set up. Hopefully we will get lots of interest and lots of support from union delegates.

Doing a lot with unions this week as I am attending the National TUC apprenticeship conference at Congress House in London on Wednesday.

Prince’s Trust North East Celebrate Success Awards

The Prince’s Trust Celebrate Success Awards honour the achievements of disadvantaged young people supported by The Trust who have succeeded against the odds, improved their chances in life and had a positive impact on their local community.

Gateshead Council and North East Apprenticeship Company Educational Achiever of the Year

Recognising young people who have overcome barriers, developed new skills and improved their education prospects.



NEAC at TUC UnionLearn Conference on Monday 7th Feb @ St James Park Newcastle

NEAC will be exhibiting at the TUC unionlearn conference at St James Park Newcastle on Monday the 7th Feb.

Why not come and see us if you are attending?

We would love to tell you what we are up to.

I will post more info on the  day.  Why not follow us on Twitter (NEACltd) and keep up to date.

Looks like a great Agenda.  It will be great to hear Catherine McKinnell MP who is one of NEAC’s excellent employers.

Promoting Apprenticeships A role for trade unions

Monday 7th February, The Moncur Suite, St James’ Park,

Newcastle upon Tyne

10:00          Refreshments and Registration

10:30          Opening Remarks Joyce McAndrew, Education, Learning & Skills Forum Chair

10:40          Catherine McKinnell MP for Newcastle North, Shadow Solicitor-General

11:00          Q&A

11:10          National Apprenticeship Service – John Wayman, Regional Director

11:30          Q&A

11:40        Employer Case Study 1: Sunderland City Council

11:55         Employer Case Study 2 (tbc)

12:10        Lunch

13:10       Trade Union Role in Apprenticeships; Apprenticeship Toolkit Graham Randle, TUC Apprenticeships Liaison   Promotions Officer

13:20          Activity: Trade Union Role in Apprenticeships

13:50          Feedback

14:05          Tackling Inequality in Apprenticeships Dave Storrie, Regional Development Workers

14:15          Activity: Tackling Inequality in Apprenticeships

14:45          Feedback

15:00          Closing remarks Beth Farhat, Union Development Coordinator

Why cant we stop ‘bashing’ our young people and support them for once!

On the eve of National Apprenticeship Week, with anticipation and an appetite to encourage young people and employers that an apprenticeship is a cost effective and efficient route to continue education and learn new skills, I am amazed at the ‘youth bashing’ that I continually see and despair of!

When will we as nation realize that if we continue to kick our young people when they are down and believe that the responsibility is with others and not everyone, our young people will continue to be under-skilled, under supported and under utilized in our workforce. Then we wonder why they don’t seem to ‘conform’ to what we see as normal.

When was it ‘normal’ to disregard the needs of a whole generation and feel OK about it?!!!

It is crazy that we hear that ‘our’ government are not only scrapping EMA, which helps thousands of young people to continue their education, but also scrapping the apprentice guarantee for 17-18 year olds.  And then a reckless journalist from the Telegraph who clearly knows no better, decides that they should write an article about how many apprentices ‘don’t’ achieve giving the government another reason to cut the disappearing investment that goes into supporting our young people to find their place in the workforce.

It is easy to have a go at young people without actually really looking into the successes as well as the young people who find an apprentice is just not for them I’m sure the said journalist and indeed many of us would not be too happy every time we started something with all the enthusiasm in the world just to drop out before we have finished?

I agree that sometimes many young people make the wrong choice but so do we all.  Come-on, why don’t we all get real and focus on the opposite 75% who do achieve for once, and start to talk about the ‘good’ job that has been done with these young people and also what an impact these young people have had.

We have to at some point find some balance about our opinions and come to our senses and give young people a chance.  Apprenticeships can not only change the lives of the young people who undertake them, the families within which these young people live, and quite clearly the employers within which they work.

Lets find some good news about our young people for once and see what happens.  You never know we may like how it feels.

Ten Minute Rule Bill Public Sector Apprenticeships

Labour MP Catherine McKinnell has proposed a Ten Minute Rule Bill requiring “successful bidders for high-value public contracts to demonstrate a firm commitment to skills training and apprenticeships”.

Introducing the bill on 14 September 2010 Ms McKinnell said expanding access to apprenticeships can “create a more tailor-made training system where employers, who know their industries better than anyone, identify the skills that are needed and train their apprentices to suit it”.


The North East Apprenticeship Company now works with closely with Catherine by supplying and apprentice to her constituency office.