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An Inverness-based social enterprise has been recognised for its commitment to supporting young people into work with a major award win.

The Apprentice Store has been named Skills Development Scotland’s Youth Employer of the Month for August.

The social enterprise, which is based in Inverness and has been operating for two years, has been recognised for its efforts in creating opportunities for young people, particularly those from diverse background.

The Apprentice Store is a social enterprise offering work experience, employment and apprenticeship opportunities for local young people.

Their core business is IT consultancy, with clients based across the Highlands and Islands.

Mentoring and support

Their apprentices take ownership of their projects, and work closely with clients from the outset. The candidates are given a huge amount of responsibility but are also provided with a great deal of mentoring to support them to work at this level.

The firm is currently home to three Modern Apprentices, who are working towards an Information Technology and Telecommunications Professionals diploma with QA Apprenticeships. Two of the apprentices were referred to The Apprentice Store on an employability programme, designed for people who face difficulty in finding work.

The firm offer young people the opportunity of work experience, with the hope that they can be employed and move on to the apprenticeship programme.

As well as work with apprentices and work experience candidates, the company has undergone Skills for Growth, a free business support service provided for small companies. Employers can get up to two days of consultancy from Skills Development Scotland, who will offer advice on how to get the people and skills required to help the business grow.

"Engaging with young people allows the workforce of the future to be developed today and by offering the right working environment you can be more confident that you keep the staff that you have developed."

David Massey, The Apprentice Store

David Massey, Managing Director at The Apprentice Store said: “It is fantastic to have our efforts in developing young people recognised by Skills Development Scotland. We firmly believe that young people can take an active role in business and the Modern Apprenticeship scheme offers a fantastic opportunity for employers and young people.”

“Our two-year apprenticeship program allows our Modern Apprentices to earn and learn as they deliver computer services to our customers. They develop strong communication skills and think about risk management while they develop their technical skills under the supervision of their mentor.

“We have found the Modern Apprenticeship framework very flexible and our chosen training provider offers classroom based learning opportunities as part of the programme.

“We can’t offer employment to all the young people who we engage with but we can offer them work experience so they can see what working in an IT business is like. This work experience develops confidence, communication skills and team working for those on work experience and who we employ.”

Anna Dawson, Employer Engagement Adviser at Skills Development Scotland, nominated the company for the award. She said: “David and the team at The Apprentice Store are leading the way in youth employment in Inverness, and it’s great to see their work being recognised.

“As a social enterprise, their focus is very much on giving back to the local community, and their apprenticeship and work experience schemes enable them to do this.

“Their focus on developing their apprentices and work experience candidates is very impressive, and I hope that other employers can take inspiration from them with their own recruitment.”

Apprenticeships are a great opportunity for young people keen to get started in the world of work, and continue their learning at the same time.

Modern Apprenticeships are available in over 80 different sectors, with hundreds of different jobs on offer across the country.

Developing the workforce

David added: “Businesses of all sizes should look to develop their workforce through the apprenticeship family from Foundation, through to Modern and Graduate Apprenticeships. Engaging with young people allows the workforce of the future to be developed today and by offering the right working environment you can be more confident that you keep the staff that you have developed.”

The Apprentice Store has already taken on two more Modern Apprentices this year, employed a graduate, has plans for further roles in the coming months and will continue to offer work experience placements throughout the year.

John F McClelland CBE, Chair of Skills Development Scotland, said: “I’d like to congratulate the team at The Apprentice Store for their work creating opportunities for local young people.

“Their programmes prove that, with the right support, young people can really add to the workplace and flourish.”

For more information

Find out more about apprenticeships and search for vacancies at apprenticeships.scot

For more information on Skills For Growth and to apply for support, head to ourskillsforce.co.uk

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