Copeland Work & Skills Partnership – Apprenticeship Initiative

This was a partnership initiative driven forward by Copeland’s Work and Skills Partnership to develop apprenticeship opportunities for Copeland residents aged 16+ not in employment, education and training (NEET) and unemployed individuals in other age groups. It also supported an additional number of learners with basic skills / skills for life – numeracy and literacy – to enable them to progress as they work towards gaining entry requirements for this and other apprenticeship frameworks.

The initiative followed a successful job creation programme, Copeland Future Jobs Fund Initiative, delivered by the Work and Skills Partnership which assisted towards reducing levels of worklessness across Copeland and supported the Government’s National campaign ‘Backing Young Britain’.

The emphasis was on the programme delivering quality apprenticeships in the job related growth areas: Tourism, Agriculture, Leisure, Outdoor Adventure, Catering & Hospitality, Farming, Retail, Construction, Social Care and Knowledge – based business.

Due to the success of Phase 1, and the clear need for a programme, Phase 2 funding was approved.

Chris Pickles, Project Lead said, ”The aim of the scheme was to benefit individuals who are not currently in employment, education or training and engage Copeland employers, some of which have little or no previous history of engagement in this type of work related support. The apprenticeships offer a route into work and are a proven way to train workforces.
We recognised businesses were crying out for practical help and support and that is exactly what the scheme was offering. The help with wages combined with professional training helped businesses with both their bottom line and with ensuring they had the right staff to move their businesses forward.“

Chris added, “Working alongside Lakes College and Inspira, we have been delighted to be at the forefront of this project. The scheme has exceeded its targets and created 50 new apprenticeships across a wide range of subject areas including customer services, joinery, health and social care, business administration and engineering. It’s been a fantastic experience being involved in the development and growth of the people of Copeland.”

The main achievements of the programme have been:
1) the ability to engage with a notoriously difficult target group (NEET);
2) the ability to engage with a wide range of employers / sectors;
3) national recognition of the scheme at a national Conference in London in November 2011 as a showcase project;
4) secured further funding through the Coalfields Regeneration Trust to fund a further 20 apprenticeship places;
5) achieved 69% job outcomes as part of the scheme which far exceeds national benchmarks of 35% on employability programmes.

Comments from employers involved in the programme suggested they felt the benefits of employing apprentices. Improved efficiency / productivity was found to be the main benefit to employers with 78% stating this. The recruitment of apprentices resulted in local businesses being better resourced especially as a significant proportion of apprentices have continued to be employed locally and this added to the skills set within the workplace.

On completion of the scheme findings indicated that a high percentage of those who completed had a positive outcome. 42% secured employment with their current employer upon completion whereas 27% secured employment with other employers. These employers included Cemac Construction , United Utilities, Sellafield and the NHS.

Quote (Albert Newell who undertook a Motor Vehicle Apprenticeship (Level 2) at Mill Garage, Frizington):

“The most important thing for me is that I now have a job and a trade. I know I am a more confident person and through this opportunity I have been able to meet new people both at work and socially. I was only able to be part of this scheme through accessing a place on Inspira’s Wheels2Work scheme which provided transport to help me get to my workplace. Through having a regular income I am able to go out more with my friends more, something I struggled to do previously. Being voted Apprentice of the year at the Lakes College Awards Evening 2012 was something I am very proud of.”

Other funding was secured from: Working Neighbourhood Fund and Nuclear Decommissioning Authority


  • 74 new apprentices with local employers
  • individuals with nationally recognised framework qualifications
  • 266 individuals who met entry requirements to apprentice framework level 2/3


  • Increase in the number of apprentice opportunities for young people not in Employment, Education or Training
  • Better resourced local employers
  • Local employers with skilled workforce
  • Increased number of people with employability skills