Blakemore says to the apprentice: You’re hired!

Blakemore Wholesale’s depot, on the Long Acre Industrial Estate, Roe Hill, Willenhall, West Midlands, has just taken on an apprentice as part of the Ladder for the Black Country scheme – becoming the first employer in the area to do so.

Stephanie Lloyd signed up with Ladder For The Black Country just over two weeks ago – and has already started her apprenticeship with the administration and accounts department at Blakemore.

“I went for my first interview on the Tuesday, I had an interview with the employer on Friday, and started for a week’s trial the following Monday,” she said.

The 20-year-old had been working at retail outlet Millie’s Cookies in Wolverhampton’s Mander Centre for the past two years, but had always wanted to work in accounting ever since completing her National Diploma in Business at City of Wolverhampton College .

Ms Lloyd, added: “It’s very different working in an office environment, compared to retail, but I’m really enjoying it. Wholesaling is much more focused, and I see it more as a career.

“It’s been very interesting. The trial week was more about being shown around the place, whereas this week I have really settled in properly.”

The Ladder for the Black Country has now created 137 apprenticeships, had more than 250 apprenticeship applications, and 25 firms have pledged to take on apprentices. Stephanie said she would “definitely recommend” the scheme, which has the Duke of York (Prince Andrew) as its patron.

“One of the good things is you can have a week’s trial to see if it is for you,” she said. “You can find out what you want to do and what you don’t like doing.”

AF Blakemore head of corporate affairs Paul Cowley said: “As a business we are committed to supporting the local communities we serve and a central part of this commitment is to offer young people opportunities within our business. We are supporters of the Ladder for the Black Country programme and I have no doubt that we will be recruiting more apprentices through this scheme in the near future.”

Ms Lloyd added: “The apprenticeship scheme has enabled me to gain real accounts experience which I hope will help me gain full-time employment and a career for the future.

“Before taking part in the programme I had no accounts or office-based experience or qualifications, so it would have been incredibly difficult for me to get a foot in the door without it.”

At the end of the work placement, there will be opportunities for permanent, full-time employment within the company’s accounts department.

Ladder for the Black Country is a partnership between local paper, the Express amp; Star, volunteering charity the Vine Trust, training provider PTP, and the Black Country Chamber of Commerce to address the region’s high levels of youth unemployment which have twice the national average.

Trainee treasurer Stephanie Lloyd, front of picture, is pictured with (L to R) treasury supervisor Karen Tolley, and association of account technicians tutor Danielle Smith.

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