From Stormont to business world … support pours in.

Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster and Invest NI chief executive Alastair Hamilton have given their support to the Belfast Telegraph’s drive to create 100 apprenticeships in 100 days.

The campaign aims to encourage businessesto consider the benefits an apprentice can bring to their companywhile also giving a young person the chance to pursue a fulfiling career.

Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster said that the campaign was “excellent”.

“Apprenticeships are a great way for young people to learn a new skill while also being in a working environment,” she said.

“But it’s also excellent for employers as it allows them to train people into the practice and workings of the business. It works both ways.”

Invest NI chief executive Alastair Hamilton said: “As someone who came into business through the apprenticeship route, I am a firm believer in the value which they can bring, to both the individual and the business. I therefore welcome the Belfast Telegraph’s campaign and encourage employers to embrace the opportunity to offer work-based training placements that will help them meet specific needs in their business.”

Businesses are also continuing to pledge their support. Aaron McConnell, owner of Kilkeel butchers Mourne Meats, said employing John Graham and Colin Thorogood as apprentices had benefited his company.

“I came through the butchery course and did my apprenticeship at this shop after the gentleman who owned it retired.

“I saw what it did for me so I’m only too happy to help the young people and drive them onto a trade,” he said.

Northgate Managed Services has also spoken about the role apprentices can play. Chief executive Andy Ross said it was the first IT services company in Northern Ireland to introduce an apprenticeship scheme, which has now been running for three years.

“Apprenticeship schemes work and I would very much endorse the Belfast Telegraph’s campaign. I would encourage more Northern Ireland companies to get involved and to investigate the apprenticeship options that are available.”

He said university was not the only route into IT. “Since introducing our scheme we have received applications from a diverse range of backgrounds including students, chefs and construction sector workers – all of whom have gone on to be highly productive within theorganisation.”

For further information on this contact the Belfast Telegraph on 028 9026 4000