Video: PM launches apprentice scheme in Suffolk

GORDON Brown travelled to Suffolk today to launch a regional apprenticeship scheme to boost the job opportunities of school leavers.

Graham Dines

GORDON Brown yesterday praised apprenticeships as the way to help Britain out of the economic downturn.

The Prime Minister was in Suffolk to launch the federated apprenticeship scheme which will offer young adults employed by small businesses in the East of England the chance to achieve a qualification in information communication technology.

Mr Brown said that when the economy recovered, it was essential that a qualified and skilled workforce was in place.

Among the apprentices he met at BT's Martlesham Heath headquarters during a visit with East of England minister Barbara Follett was Aaron Lamb who lives in Ipswich and attended Stoke High School and Northgate Sixth Form college.

He joined BT as an office based technician but was almost immediately seconded to BT Innovate's applied technology centre where he works in graphic design and concept development.

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Aaron decided to take an apprenticeship rather then go to university or college because he wanted “to get the skills to have a long, successful career and also to continue my education in a workplace environment.”

Another of the five BT apprentices who talked to the Prime Minister was Richard Fox, 21, from Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, who took part in the Team GB's Paralympics team in Beijing last summer. He was a member of the cerebral palsy seven-a-side soccer team - when he told Mr Brown the team did not win a medal, he was told: “Don't worry, it was great you took part, it was a wonderful achievement.”

Mr Brown toured part of the BT complex and was told that Innovation for the Digital Economic Age, collaboration between Suffolk New College, the University of East Anglia, the University of Essex, University Campus Suffolk, University College London, and BT, was offering 30 apprenticeship places for a new federated apprenticeship course.

“Apprenticeships bring so many benefits to everyone involved,” said Mr Brown. “They are an effective way for businesses to obtain the right skills to get them through the economic downturn and offer a handpicked, motivated workforce.”

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