More young people than ever are taking up apprenticeship opportunities.

Some of the East Durham’s biggest employers, including Mecaplast, NSK Bearings, Great Annual Savings Group and TRW, are taking on young people who are offered the chance to earn while they learn.

And according to Simon Naisbett, East Durham Business Service’s employment consultant, it’s easy to see why.

Simon said: “There used to be a stigma attached to apprenticeships that they’re just for people who want to work on building sites or they’re only for people who didn’t do well in their exams. People are wrongly used to think they don’t lead to well paid careers.

“But actually apprenticeships are a great way for young people to get themselves on the career ladder and learn while they earn, as well as finding long-term rewarding prospects along the way.”

Simon is based at Novus Business Centre in Peterlee and works with 16-24-year-olds across County Durham, providing guidance on employment, apprenticeships, training programmes and education.

He answered some questions for Seaham Business Park to help young people in the area thinking of going down the apprenticeship route.

Q. What is the top thing businesses are looking for when recruiting an apprentice?

Definitely attitude. At this stage you’re unlikely to possess any real work-based skills so it’s all about displaying the right attitude. You have to show that you’re willing to push yourself, that you’re motivated and enthusiastic, and above all are willing to learn.

Q. I’m academic but really don’t want to go to university. Is an apprenticeship for me?

Yes, of course it is. An apprenticeship is for anyone and this route into employment is becoming more and more popular. It’s the perfect way to earn while you learn and if you really prove yourself, an apprenticeship can offer a career for life.

Q. My parents tell me there aren’t jobs around here, and apprenticeships are a waste of time. Are they right?

Not at all. There are plenty of jobs on offer across the county in a variety of sectors, and more and more employers are recruiting apprentices as they look to invest in their workforce of tomorrow.
Apprenticeships really can offer young people a career for life – if you work hard your employer isn’t going to let you go when your apprenticeship ends. They’ve invested their time and money in you and want you to become an asset to their business.

Q. I’m preparing for my first interview. What advice would you give me to ensure I’m in with a chance of being successful?

Be prepared. Research the company when you’re applying for any job or apprenticeship as this shows you’re keen and have put the effort in. Also, be punctual, smart and come armed with positivity. Show the person interviewing you that you’re the candidate they need for their business, that you’ll be an asset to their future growth. You only have one chance to impress; make sure you leave the interview knowing you’ve done your best.