Apprentices at Seaham-based Great Annual Savings have begun life in permanent employment.

GAS’ national award-winning apprenticeship scheme has seen its first cohort of apprentices progress to permanent employment a year ahead of schedule.

After being named ‘Best Newcomer SME’ in the North East last October, Great Annual Savings Group received a special mention at the National Apprenticeship Awards in January for the speed of progress it has made.

And now the Spectrum Business Park-based company’s first year apprentices have taken their final assessments 12 months early to complete their apprenticeship in two years, rather than three.

In total, seven apprentices have been confirmed into full-time roles in Sales, Administration, HR and Finance.  They have completed Level 2 and are fast-tracking Level 3 NVQs and are imminently sitting industry exams with bodies including the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) or Chartered Institute of Personal Development (CIPD).

Judith Bennison, Group HR Director, said: “We are delighted with our apprentices.  We’ve held them up as success stories within the business ever since they joined in September 2015 and they’ve gone on to exceed our expectations.

“With their prominent roles in their teams, we were certain they were ready for full-time employment and to move on to the next step in their career.  They have all taken part in showcasing our apprenticeship scheme to the outside world by participating in jobs fairs and open days to tell other young people about the company and their personal journey.

“We’re incredibly proud of our scheme and are looking forward to taking even more apprentices on during September and early October this year.”

Great Annual Savings’ second cohort are also on track to do the same in 2018 as their apprenticeships have been shortened from three years to two years.

The company also recently launched the GAS Group Academy, dedicated to training sales apprentices.  The first academy cohort has been successfully integrated and GAS plans to take on 60 more apprentices over the next 12 months.