THE value apprentices can bring to small businesses was highlighted during a VIP visit to a growing Wigan firm.
Yvonne Fovargue, MP for Makerfield (pictured) , visited Lilac Lettings based in Ashton, to find out first-hand how and why they have successfully recruited an apprentice to their small team.
Wigan Council supported Lilac Lettings in recruiting apprentice Shannon Ormesher, 18. As part of its Deal for Business, Wigan Council has invested £1.5m into its business apprenticeship scheme which aims to get 350 young people into work.
Ms Fovargue, who is shadow minister for young people, met Shannon who is proving to be an invaluable employee to the small firm.
Lilac Lettings was founded by Debra Higgins and her sister-in-law, also called Debra Higgins, just three years ago.
The company has grown to employ six staff and manage more than 250 properties across Wigan and the wider area.
Shannon, 18, took on the business administration apprenticeship with Lilac Lettings after leaving school and finding that college wasn’t for her.
Now Shannon is loving being an apprentice and is an asset to her firm.
Debra said: “We are a small family business and we were getting busier and busier.
“We wanted to grow the business and take to the next step. We worked closely with Wigan Council to take on an apprentice and it was an ideal situation for us.
“It’s going really well with Shannon. She’s learnt so much and she’s far more confident than she was.
“Shannon can grow with us. We are putting a lot of time and effort into her and we are getting a lot back.”
Shannon applied to be an apprentice through the national apprenticeship website.
Shannon said: “It’s good, I really enjoy it. I like the fact I’m not just in the office all the time. I get to go out on viewings and inspections.”
Shannon, who is hoping to stay with Lilac Lettings and further her career, possibly through taking the next level of apprenticeship, said she would advise other young people to take on an apprenticeship.
“It’s a lot better option than going to college. You get good experience and you are getting paid as well,” she said.
Ms Fovargue said: “Lilac Lettings is a really good example to show that you don’t have to be a big company to take on apprentices.
“You can be any size of company and benefit from an apprentice. There is also lots of support available to companies and Wigan Council deserves a great deal of praise for how it supports both companies and apprentices.”
Coun David Molyneux, Wigan Council’s cabinet member for regeneration, said: “It is great to hear about so many apprentice success stories happening in Wigan borough.
“Credit must go to the local companies who are willing to invest time and energy in our young people and many are reaping the benefits as a result.”
For more information about apprentices log on to www.wiganworks.com
Ms Fovargue will be defending her Makerfield seat at May’s general election. Other candidates were due to be confirmed this week.