More young people opting for on-the-job career experience

THE NUMBER of young people taking up apprenticeships has grown enormously in the last decade and one local employer is championing the benefits of of in-work training and learning.

To mark the start of National Apprenticeship Week on Monday (February 6), Tunbridge Wells-based group Elite Leisure Collection (ELC) has launched a drive to celebrate its existing apprentices and to encourage more to sign up.

Census data recently released by the Office of National Statistics showed that 2.4 million people – or 5.3 per cent of England’s population – held an apprenticeship qualification.

This is an increase of 76 per cent since the 2011 census, with more and more young people realising the value of apprenticeships, choosing them over the traditional academic route of going to university.

ELC has been working to foster talent on the job in and around Tunbridge Wells, partnering with training provider Estio to deliver the formal part of its digital and IT apprenticeships.

Lily Spencer, ELC’s Group Head of Digital Advertising, said: “We want to give young people the opportunity to build a long-term career in an industry they love.”

Elena Van Leeuwen started her digital marketing apprenticeship with ELC in June 2022.

Ms Spencer said: “Elena has benefitted the company in so many ways. She’s always learning new ideas during her studies, which she brings back to the department for us to try.”

With hands-on experience, onsite lessons and dedicated study time, the scheme has allowed Elena to acquire valuable skills and real-world experience.

She said: “Being able to put my skills into practice in real-life scenarios makes the course relatable and drives me to do better in my studies.”

Terry Antoine is another ELC apprentice. Previously the group’s food and beverage supervisor, he has now joined the scheme as an IT Support Technician.

Terry said: “From the very beginning I’ve received so much guidance and support. I’m encouraged to ask questions, make mistakes, and learn from them.”

Full-time staff benefit from the presence and skills of the apprentices working alongside them, said Ward Samways, ELC’s Joint Head of IT.

Stressing the advantage of growing a motivated, skilled and qualified workforce, Mr Samways added: “Terry has become an invaluable member of the team, demonstrating a strong customer focus and desire to develop.”

For National Apprenticeship Week, Elite Leisure Collection is encouraging potential apprentices to get in touch, including those who already have a degree.

For more details, contact

Elite Leisure Collection owns One Media, publisher of the Times of Tunbridge Wells.

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