Ruth Mitchell

Sportswear firm takes advantage of Government apprentice scheme

A local sportswear firm have become one of the first in the North East to take advantage of the subsidies provided by the Government-led apprentice scheme.

After the Government announced plans to make funds available to SMEs looking to take on a 16-24 year old apprentice, Orion Teamwear turned to Access Training for advice.

They soon discovered that they were eligible for a new £1,500 grant, and have now taken on a 17 year old apprentice, Nathan Wilson, to support the day-to-day running of the business.

Orion Teamwear was established by former Scottish international rugby player Richard Metcalfe, and produces team and leisure clothing for a range of professional and amateur teams.

Mark Whitely, joint owner of Orion Teamwear believes that the grant will be invaluable to the small firm, and will allow them to dedicate time and efforts to Nathan’s development.

He said: “We run an extremely busy operation and needed someone who we could train up to be a key part of the team.

“There are only four of us here so it is so important that we get the right person to work with us, and we wanted someone who was young, bright and a blank canvas with no bad habits.

“Access has been really helpful and Nathan’s doing well - he is helping with stock management, printing, goods in and goods out and checking orders.”

To be eligible for the grant, an organisation must have less than 250 employees and be taking on an apprentice for the first time or for the first time in over three years.

The managing director of Access Training Malcolm Armstrong believes that the additional funding will be welcomed by many small and medium businesses.

Malcolm added: “Since the introduction of higher university fees we have seen the calibre of applicants for our apprenticeships get higher and higher, many of our apprentices now have A Levels and higher qualifications.

“We are matching very capable, ambitious young people to apprenticeship vacancies in companies across the North East.”

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