Demand from employers has led a college to expand its apprenticeship scheme.

Shipley College was yesterday demonstrating the calibre and diversity of its students in the hope that even more firms will sign-up.

Between 2011/12 it offered 131 apprenticeships and 180 were secured for 2012/13. It now plans to add to that number for the coming year as interest from businesses has grown.

The college works with partners from a wide range of industry sectors, including both large and small organisations and companies such as UKAR, Hallmark Cards, NHS BDCT, and Northcliffe Golf Course.

An open day yesterday was for potential students to learn about new courses on offer at the college, but was also a chance for local employers to see the type of people interested in learning while working.

Carly Newsholme, business development team leader at the college, said: “The college’s growing reputation as a training provider has led to an increased volume in calls from businesses themselves who have heard about the success of our apprentices.

“Apprenticeships are a very real option for students who have made a conscious choice not to go to university as well as those looking to enter work at 16.”

Fagley Primary School is one new employer which has joined the apprenticeship scheme.

Deputy head teacher Alex Llewellyn said he learned about the ICT technician apprenticeship from another head teacher.

“An employment liaison officer from Shipley College came and met me to discuss how the apprenticeship works. It sounded ideal. From then on the process was quite quick. We wrote a job description together and advertised the position. All the candidates interviewed well which made the decision quite difficult,” he said.

“However, we chose the one that we felt fitted our role in school the best and since then we haven't looked back. Within a short time he has become indispensable.”

The school has since employed another apprentice working on a teaching assistant’s course.

The college also offers internal apprenticeship places.

Physical resources support manager Melanie Erangey said: “Former apprentice Jonathon Stockdale, then 18, was brilliant; a great asset to the team and fitted in to college life really well. Jonny completed his Level 2 and 3 Apprenticeship in Business Administration three months early and has now been permanently employed by the college.”

Jonathan, now 21, who attended Bingley Grammar School, said: “I found it a very rewarding experience and the training I received has certainly helped me into full time employment.”

College principal Nav Chohan said the college is playing an increasingly influential role in the regional economic growth agenda.

“As a result of our partnerships with the wider business community, we know that companies are crying out for students with transferable experience. We see this scheme as an effective way of plugging the skills gap in the Bradford area,” he said.

For apprenticeship details click here