APPRENTICES are blazing a trail up the career ladder at the town hall.

Next week is National Apprenticeship Week and Trafford Council is preparing to celebrate the event with its star recruits.

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The theme for this year is Blaze a Trail and the hard working Trafford young men and women are leading the way.

The council has recruited more than 179 apprentices in a variety of roles since October, 2011.

Every day next the week, it will will be hosting a series of activities and events for its 40 latest apprentices. These include promoting apprenticeships to schools, a meet and greet with our new chief executive, Sara Todd, question time with councillors, social media masterclasses, an ask an apprentice day, special drop in sessions and a careers day.

On Monday, there will be a celebration event for a number of catering staff who have completed their hospitality apprenticeships.

The Lord Mayor of Trafford, Cllr Tom Ross, will be presenting them with certificates.

Apprenticeships are an alternative to university or college because young people can work while they study.

They combine work, training, and study, letting you 'earn while you learn'.

Cllr Catherine Hynes, the council’s executive member for equalities and partnerships, said: “Trafford Council wholeheartedly supports apprenticeships and we are delighted to have taken on nearly 200 in the past few years.

“Apprenticeships are an essential element of our talent development and are a great way to develop the skills and knowledge of our workforce. By bringing in new talent, as well as investing in existing staff mid-career, we are unlocking the potential of our current workforce, creating higher level skills, higher performance and building a skills pipeline to fulfil future roles.

“Apprentices are our future ­— it is vital they are given opportunities to learn in the workplace. Here at Trafford we have taken on apprentices right across the board and we are proud to see them progress through their exams and into new roles in the council.

"Many of our apprentices stay with us when their apprenticeships have finished. I am really looking forward to National Apprenticeship Week and would like to thank all our apprentices for all their hard work – they are a credit to the Council.”

Trafford Council takes on about 20 apprentices per year at level 2 with the opportunity to progress to a level 3 apprenticeship. The local authority is currently working with 10 providers to deliver a wide range of apprenticeships including: adults social care, accountancy, business administration, chartered legal executive, children, young people and families, customer service, cyber security, data analyst, digital marketing and digital and technology solutions.

Here are some of the apprentices who have enjoyed success through the scheme.

Ciaran Smith, aged 23, is a digital marketing apprentice in the marketing and communications team.

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He said: “I love working for Trafford Council especially within the communications team. I live in Trafford and went to school in Trafford. I love the feeling that I get knowing that I am contributing to my local area.

“Every day is different as the work is very varied. I believe that the experience of working for Trafford Council is entirely unique.

"I enjoy working with all my colleagues and even though I have not been working here that long, I have been made to feel very welcome and it feels like I have been part of the team a lot longer."

Jade Gillick, aged 24, is a customer service apprentice in the Council’s Bereavement Team at Altrincham Crematorium.

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Jade, who has been at Trafford Council since October last year, said: “I am really enjoying my role. When I come into work in the mornings, my main job is taking calls from people who want to book funerals and burials. I’m learning a lot about customer service and how to deal with a number of inquiries from the public.

“My apprenticeship is level 2 and is for two years. I feel this apprenticeship is teaching me so much and offering me a strong future.”

Megan Skelhorn works in the public health team at Trafford Council.

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She said: “It’s amazing working here, especially with the Public Health team being so supportive, and knowing that I am working with them to improve the health of the borough which I have lived in all my life.

“I get to work on so many important programmes and projects which have helped me to improve and develop my skills, and most importantly, my confidence. This has quite honestly been one of the most useful and most enjoyable experiences of my life.”