CLEOBURY Mortimer's MP has visited a social enterprise in the town to show his support for apprenticeships.

Conservative Philip Dunne went to Cleobury Country as part of National Apprenticeship Week. The social enterprise hired its first apprentice, Vicki Harris, in January.

National Apprenticeship Week was co-ordinated by the National Apprenticeship Service to promote the impact apprenticeships could have on individuals, companies and specific sectors of the economy.

Mr Dunne said: "Apprenticeships can be a great way for young people to gain job-specific skills, qualifications and experience. They also are a practical way for many to undergo training, as individuals earn as they train.

"Many businesses benefit from taking on apprenticeships, as they can fill specific skills gaps or be a cost-effective way to develop new talent.

"Research from the Centre for Economic and Business Research has shown that last year 750 people started a new apprenticeship in the Ludlow constituency, giving an average benefit to the bottom line of £2,207 for every apprentice hired or some £1.7 million boost to local businesses.

"This benefit is immediate, after wage and training costs are deducted.

"County Training, the apprenticeship service run by Shropshire Council, offers latest advice on apprenticeships, so I urge local businesses to take advantage of their free recruitment service to see what grants are currently available to help meet the costs of taking on new apprentices or training existing staff.”

Ms Harris, a former Ludlow College student from Clows Top, joined Cleobury Country, which promotes business in the area, in January, having approached County Training for help finding an apprenticeship.

She said: “I am very happy to be here. I am learning more about the world of work every day. This is my first job, so as well as developing my work skills, I am also learning how everyone takes their tea.”

Gavin Owen, business development officer at County Training, said: “Vicki is a great advocate for this scheme. We were pleased that through the County Training Apprenticeship Scheme we were able to help find the right person for the right position in a few weeks.”

The next monthly meeting of the Cleobury Mortimer Business Network will be held on Wednesday, March 19 at Cleobury Country, Love Lane, Cleobury, at 6pm. It will focus on apprenticeships. Ms Harris will attend with Mr Owen to explain how the apprenticeship scheme works.

Ann Hartley, Shropshire Council’s cabinet member for children’s services, said: "County Training works with a large number of businesses already, providing opportunities for young people looking to access opportunities to develop a career with training.

"We’re encouraging 16 to 24-year-olds, including those that are leaving school or college this year, to come forward and find out more about this increasingly popular post-16 option.

"Apprenticeship vacancies are available county-wide, with opportunities ranging from working in marketing and design and solicitors, through to being in a hospitality environment or working with horses.”

Shropshire's County Training currently has more than 50 apprenticeship opportunities across the county, with more expected after Easter.