The mission to create 100 apprenticeships in Medway in 100 days has begun. The Medway 100 in 100 apprenticeship challenge launched on Thursday, 19 May, and has been championed by private training providers, Mid Kent College and Medway businesses. More than 40 businesses attended the launch at Commissioner’s House, Chatham Historic Dockyard, to find out more about the apprenticeship model and how it can benefit them. Among them were hairdressers, marketing firms, mechanical engineering specialists and local secondary schools.

And already 20 businesses have pledged to take on apprentices as part of the challenge, promising a total of 58 apprenticeships between them – on day one of the campaign. The challenge aims to attract businesses of all sizes, across all sectors, and will give job seekers aged 16 and above a chance to gain trade skills and a recognised qualification, while earning a wage. Pledging to take on eight apprentices at the launch was Brian Burton, Vice Chairman of the Medway Queen Preservation Society. The apprentices will work on the restoration of the paddle steamer, the Medway Queen, which is currently being restored in Bristol, set to return to Medway at the end of this year. Speaking at the launch, Brian said: “It’s been our ambition from the start to get apprentices involved in the restoration project and I’m so pleased to finally see this ambition realised.” The apprentices will gain carpentry, electrical and mechanical skills during their work on the Medway Queen.

Apprenticeships were pledged with a range of businesses at the launch, including digital media companies, schools, electrical and mechanical engineering companies, security firms and a hairdressing salon. (Full list of pledges is available). Paul Charman from Delphi Diesel Solutions, who pledged to take on six apprentices across manufacturing and engineering, said: “As a company, apprenticeships allow us to fill areas where there are skills shortages, such as engineering and skilled technicians. “We also find that bringing these apprentices in gives us a fresh impotus, with new ways of thinking and keeps us alive as a company.”

Ryan Curtis, 31, from Bridge Road, Gillingham, who completed his Mechanical Engineering Apprenticeship with Delphi Diesel in 2001, and later went on to complete a degree at Greenwich University, sponsored by the company, said: “My apprenticeship kick started my career and I’m now a professionally qualified engineer, with 14 years experience at a company I know I’m an asset to.”

The 100 in 100 challenge will run until October. If you’re a business and wanted to get involved, contact the National Apprenticeship Service on 08000 150 600 or http://www.apprenticeships.org.uk If you’re interested in becoming an apprentice, contactthe Medway Youth Trust on 01634 334343 or http://www.medwayyouthtrust.org.

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