Thursday, 5 April 2012

Apprenticeship Event with Lee McQueen

I was delighted to recently be part of the panel at Truro College’s Apprenticeship Event on 29 March, working alongside local businesses, as well as the National Apprenticeship Service and Jobcentre Plus, to publicise some of the great things currently going on with Apprenticeships in Cornwall.

Truro College’s press release from this event is below:

‘A major Apprenticeship event at Truro and Penwith College featured The Apprentice winner Lee McQueen who gave a fast paced and motivational speech at the largest Apprenticeship event in Cornwall. This special meeting of the college’s Cornwall Business Club was compered by Daphne Skinnard from BBC Radio Cornwall.   Over 180 business people from all over the county attended the event held at Truro College’s Fal Building.  Appropriately, Apprentices organised and hosted the evening, with 12 Apprentices studying their Professional Cookery framework at The Seafood Restaurant making and serving fabulous canapés. 

Truro and Penwith College, Cornwall Works, National Apprenticeships Scheme and Jobcentre Plus planned the event to showcase Apprenticeships and to reach out to Cornwall businesses, encouraging them to employ an apprentice.  Lee McQueen confirmed the need to give young people opportunities and to encourage talent. He shared his experiences of starting out with two jobs to earn enough money for a mortgage rather than paying rent.  His determination to work hard led to his learning a trade first in catering and later as a ‘Resourcer’ in the recruitment business. He gave up his £32M turnover business to work as Sir Alan Sugar’s apprentice. McQueen attributed his success in winning The Apprentice to the straightforward philosophy which leads to success in any business: “ Work together as a team, work hard as a team, and win as a team”.   

A panel of key influencers were there for a question and answer session, including MP Sarah Newton, Michael Rabone HR Manager at The Seafood Restaurant and Apprentice Ambassador, Helen France Head of Business Development - National Apprenticeship Service, Sally Wilson Learning and Development Manager, Cornwall Foundation Trust and Apprentice Ambassador, Rachel Jones, Fit and Fun Kids and Leading Women Network, Paul Masters Assistant Chief Executive Cornwall County Council, Carolyn Webster European Programme and Partnership Manager Jobcentre Plus, Mark Yeoman, Convergence Partnership and David Walrond, Principal of Truro and Penwith College.

The economic benefits of taking on Apprenticeships were reinforced by Michael Rabone, Sally Wilson and Rachel Jones who all employ Apprentices as part of their HR strategy, bringing dynamism, commitment and energy into their companies.

The advice, information and new government initiative designed to encourage higher employment; particularly within the 16-24 age group was reviewed.  David Walrond spoke of the crucial partnership between employer, learner and trainer to ensure that both businesses and apprentices gained long term and sustainable benefits. Work experience for young people was also debated, with McQueen explaining that in his recruitment business he is looking for the right attitude in people and his belief that the attitude for work often starts at home.  The panel fielded questions on how employers could get involved, the value of work placements for young people in Year 11, support available for businesses taking on Apprentices for the first time and many others.

David Walrond Principal of Truro and Penwith College commented on the evening:

“It was a great success in terms of the levels of interest and engagement from businesses and the quality of the discussions, including the many informal networking conversations that surrounded the presentations. We want more and more businesses to take on board the idea of employing apprentices and the feedback from this evening is really encouraging. There were serious messages to communicate but we wanted this to be an enjoyable occasion too, and the feedback in that regard was equally positive. We are very grateful to Michael Rabone and his team for their efficient and highly professional organisation and catering. Having the apprentices so successfully involved in running things meant that the event itself became powerful proof of what can be achieved through offering and serving apprenticeships.” 

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