Stockport firm makes the most of apprenticeships

A businessman is singing the praises of apprenticeships after his first ever apprentice recruit was presented with a 'Learner of the Month' award from Stockport training provider, Damar Training.

Substantial business growth has meant Tonetech, based at Meadow Mill, Stockport, needed an extra pair of hands and company owner, Bill Quinn, decided to take on his first apprentice administrator.

Since 17-year-old Ciara Fletcher joined Tonetech Limited in June she has proved to be a valuable asset to the expanding company, which supplies timber, parts, paints and tools to people who make guitars and stringed instruments.

Mr Quinn said: "I was keen to employ someone who I could show the ropes to and help develop to take the business forward. It's not necessarily the sort of business a young person might think of when starting their career so I contacted Damar who helped me recruit Ciara. Since then she has come on in leaps and bounds and we were both over the moon when she was awarded Damar's 'Learner of the Month' award for October."

Damar Training is currently working with 130 employers in the north-west and has worked with more than 700 apprentices in the past year. Each month, the provider singles out an exceptional learner going through one of its training programmes for the Learner of the Month award.

Mr Quinn added: "Apprenticeships are a great option for businesses like mine. If you need to recruit another member of staff, taking on an apprentice is a great way for you to develop your company's future talent.

"Ciara is building up a great understanding of my business already - since she has been here she has developed a great rapport with customers, taken responsibility for order management and for the purchasing of packaging supplies. She has also staffed our trade stand at the Northern guitar show in Leeds."

Damar Training provides free recruitment support for apprentices aged under the age of 19 and their assessors help to train the apprentice during the following one to two years. In most cases the training is fully funded by the Government.

Ciara, who lives in Swinton, said: “Until Damar introduced me to Bill and Tonetech I knew nothing about guitar making – and I certainly wouldn't have been able to find the job without Damar's help. Being an apprentice is a great way to get in to the world of work. Not only does it help you get a job in the first place, you also get loads of support once in work. My assessor, Alison, visits me regularly and I can always call or email her if I'm not sure about something. My confidence and skills have really grown over the past few months and much of that is down to the support that I've had from Bill and from Damar. "

"If you're not sure that staying on at school or college is right for you then I would strongly recommend an apprenticeship. They're not just for trades like construction – you can also do an apprenticeship if you're interested in working with people or in an office. I am interested in an advanced apprenticeship next and am looking forward to my career progressing from there."

Damar's managing director, Jonathan Bourne, said: "I am delighted at Ciara's success and with the difference that having an apprentice is making for Tonetech. Apprenticeships are a great option for organisations of all sizes but it is at the smaller end where the economic impact is greatest. The growth of our economy depends on small businesses succeeding and having the confidence to take on new staff – apprenticeships help deliver both these things."

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