A PROJECT aimed at creating more than 500 new apprenticeship places in Bradford has already helped its 100th apprentice into work.

The Bradford Apprenticeship Training Agency is celebrating achieving the milestone within a year of it beginning, and is ahead of its targets for the number of apprenticeships being created in the district.

The 100th apprentice through the ATA is 18-year-old James Blackwell, of Keighley, who has now been placed as an apprentice assistant technician for 12 months at Kay-Dee Engineering Plastics Ltd, based in Shipley.

The agency was set up last year and is a partnership between Bradford Council and Bradford College. It works closely with all training providers to help equip young people with the skills needed by local employers. It now has 140 Bradford employers on board, many of them small businesses that are short of time and money to recruit.

The apprenticeships it has helped create are in a wide range of industries, from admin and accountancy to fabrication and welding as well as warehousing.

The initiative is part of the Get Bradford Working campaign by Bradford Council to boost employment opportunities for people living in the district.

Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe, the Council's executive member for employment, skills and culture, is also chairman of the Apprenticeship Training Agency.

She said: "Congratulations to James on being the 100th apprentice. We are delighted to able to celebrate this milestone.

"This is a result of the Apprenticeship Training Agency team working extremely hard in its first year.

"Apprenticeships are a great alternative to going to university and employers are keen to take on quality apprentices. Those who have invested in an apprentice, say it has helped to grow their business.

"In Bradford we work closely with employers to ensure our employment programmes are providing young people with relevant opportunities.

"Apprenticeships are a great opportunity for a young person to get their foot on the ladder and work their way up. I know of businesses where the head of the company started as an apprentice. It just shows what apprentices can achieve.

"We are now doing more work in schools so that young people and their families learn more about the advantages of apprenticeships."

Michele Sutton, chief executive at Bradford College said: "Plenty of young people want to work and we are here to equip them with the right skills and experience that will get them where they need to be.

"We want to create a career pathway that will lead to a permanent job."

The scheme is funded until September 2015, but it is hoped that it will become a long term sustainable enterprise.

Those looking to be the next apprentice or a business looking to hire an apprentice can contact the ATA on (01274) 925255 or visit atabradford.co.uk