Apprentices help create prototype wheelchair for young sportspeople

An exciting new project which enables young wheelchair users in the North West to participate in sport is being launched by North West Training Council (NWTC)  and The Greenbank Project.

The project will see the manufacture of new prototype power-hockey wheelchairs for use by young sports people with disabilities. The wheelchair was jointly designed in 2011 by Sefton-based North West Training Council (NWTC), a specialist provider of engineering and construction apprenticeships, and The Greenbank Project.

NWTC apprentices employed at Jaguar Land Rover were involved in creating the prototype wheelchair which includes firing mechanisms, a variable speed control and unique flexible “V” at the front of the chair that allows players to dribble the hockey ball or football. A specialist compressed air mechanism shoots or passes the ball. The chairs are also designed to enable players to bump into each other to allow for safe tackling.

Paul Musa, Chief Executive of North West Training Council said

“We are delighted to be working with The Greenbank Project who provide invaluable support and opportunities to disabled people in Liverpool, and to help enhance lives for disabled young people in the North West.”

Greenbank first developed a specialist power-hockey chair in 2000 to enable children with muscular dystrophy & cerebral palsy to play hockey.

It has been a dream of Gerry Kinsella, chief executive of The Greenbank Project to have power-hockey recognised as a sport in its own right and to one day feature in the Paralympic Games.

With The Greenbank Project, NWTC aims to set up a social enterprise to manufacture low cost power chairs to make the sport accessible to as many young people with disabilities as possible.

The Greenbank team will develop the sport through an outreach programme in schools and community clubs. The project will also work to oversee the future of the sport and campaign for its national recognition.

Sowing the seeds of success

Two young men from Netherley are the latest success stories from the Young Persons Opportunities Project (YPOP) and its Key to Apprenticeships programme in Horticulture.

17-year-olds Adam and Connor found out about Key to Apprenticeships through YPOP’s outreach work in the local community and youth clubs. They had not been in education or employment since leaving school over a year ago.

The 10-week Key to Apprenticeships programme in Horticulture at YPOP combines practical horticulture skills with boosting competencies in maths, English and personal development. It gives young people qualities that employers look for in new recruits.

During their practical sessions, Adam and Connor worked outside on a variety of land spaces, using different tools and techniques. Specialist horticulture tutors gave them professional guidance in key areas such as building, planting planters for the local village, and growing vegetables for pensioners.

Having completed the course, Adam and Connor have achieved Level 1 qualifications in horticulture and personal development, additional qualifications in maths and English, and certificates in manual handling.

The future’s now bright for the green-fingered duo – they hope to progress onto full Apprenticeships in horticulture. They are also setting up their own business together – a gardening service for local pensioners.

Connor, said:

“YPOP’s Key to Apprenticeships programme gave Adam and I a real taste of what a career in horticulture has to offer. We’re both proud of our achievements and are looking forward to starting our careers in this industry. YPOP has really supported us, helping us to achieve job skills and qualifications, and encouraging us the whole way”.

YPOP project manager, Ann Johnson, said:

“We’ve been delivering vocational programmes to young people since 2000. Schools we work with include Parklands High School, St Hilda’s College, St Julies High School, SFX College, Calderstones School, Belvedere Academy, Gateacre School, Palmerston Special School, Palmerston Special School, Halewood Academy, ESLA and Archbishop Blanch School, providing vocational training to their pupils aged14 and over. Many of these pupils come onto courses with us when they leave school, gaining further qualifications to enhance their careers prospects. YPOP has already offered over 60 Key to Apprenticeships places to local young people finishing school this summer. We look forward to many more successes like those of Adam and Connor.”

For more information call Young Persons Opportunities Project 0151 233 2078

Ofsted praise for flagship Merseyside programme boosts region’s training profile

One of Merseyside’s largest government-funded learning programmes for 16 to 18 year olds, Key To Apprenticeships, has been commended by Ofsted after a recent inspection. Ofsted praised the impact the programme, managed by Greater Merseyside Learning Providers Federation (GMLPF) is having on the young people of Merseyside.

Boost to Merseyside profile

GMLPF underwent Ofsted’s revised, more rigorous inspection format in April 2013, resulting in an overall Grade 2 “Good” rating for its Key To Apprenticeships programme, a great boost for the profile of vocational training provision on Merseyside.

GMLPF delivers its flagship Key To Apprenticeships programme for 16-18 year-olds through a network of 15 Merseyside training providers.  The short vocational course gives school leavers and other young people work experience, skills and qualifications, aiming to progress them onto full Apprenticeships.

High quality training

GMLPF’s programme is one of the largest contracts for any government-funded training programme for 16-18 year olds on Merseyside, supporting the achievements of over 1,500 young people since its inception in 2008. The overwhelmingly positive feedback outlined in the Ofsted report reflects the quality of the training on the programme. This is delivered by local, independent training organisations with strong track records in providing training and support, individually tailored to help young people achieve.

Praised in particular for outcomes for young people, Ofsted reported that:

“Learners make very good progress relative to their starting point, produce a good standard of work and achieve an impressive number and variety of qualifications and personal objectives within a relatively short time.“

“Learners significantly improve their confidence, self-esteem and communication skills.”

“The progression rate for learners… following completion of the programme is good. The proportion of learners who enter apprenticeship training is particularly high.”

Quality of teaching

On inspecting the teaching provided by the 15 training partners, Ofsted found that:

“Teaching, learning and assessment are good which is reflected in the high number of learners’ gaining vocational qualifications and improving their progression.”

“Learners benefit from the good tutor support and report how much they enjoy their learning.”

“Tutors have a good knowledge and experience of their vocational area and use very relevant industry specific learning tasks to help learners’ link theory to practical situations.”

Reporting on how GMLPF encourages partnership work, Ofsted commented on the use of

“…good partnership links to ensure the programmes offered are very relevant and meet learners and employers’ needs well.”

Praise from key local figures

Speaking about the success of Key To Apprenticeships, Labour MP for Liverpool Walton, Steve Rotheram, said:

“I congratulate GMLPF and its partners on this fantastic result. High quality training provision like the Key To Apprenticeships programme is vital to the future of our young people and the future of Merseyside. This Ofsted rating reflects very positively on the work carried out by GMLPF and its partners for the benefit of the whole region.”

Commenting on GMLPF’s role in the region, Liverpool City Councillor Nick Small said:

“I’m delighted GMLPF has been recognised as good by Ofsted and congratulate everyone involved for their hard work and commitment. I know what an asset GMLPF is for the city, helping young learners especially acquire the skills that employers want.”

Something Merseyside can be proud of

Commenting on the positive Ofsted results, GMLPF Chief Executive, Stan Pochron, said

“The challenging Ofsted process paints an important independent picture of our work and the quality of training provided by our Key To Apprenticeships partners. A “good” grading for such a significant programme is a massive achievement, something the whole of Merseyside can be proud of.”

Peter McEvoy from Asset Training said:

“We’re proud to be a Key To Apprenticeships training provider, delivering a programme which offers young people a proven route into Apprenticeships.  It’s great to have the programme’s strengths confirmed by Ofsted, including the quality of teaching delivered by independent learning providers and our partnership approach to supporting young people in Merseyside.”


The 15 training providers who are contracted by GMLPF to deliver the Key To Apprenticeships programme are: Aigburth Training Opportunities; Alder Training; Alt Valley Community Trust; Asset Training; Epoch Training; Mode; GP Strategies Ltd; North West Training College; North West Training Council; Progress Sports; Riverside Learning & Education Centre; Training Plus Merseyside (TPM); TTE Training Ltd; The Vocational College; Young Persons Opportunities Project.

Read the full Ofsted report

More on Key To Apprenticeships

Celebrating at Liverpool City Region’s first Apprenticeships Awards

stGeorgeshallsmallThe dedication and achievements of Merseyside’s best apprentices and their employers were celebrated last week at the first ever Liverpool City Region Apprenticeship Awards.

500 guests attended the spectacular celebration ceremony which culminated in the crowning of seven apprentices and three employers as leading examples of Apprenticeships success on Merseyside. The glittering inaugural event was sponsored by the Greater Merseyside Learning Providers Federation (GMLPF) and held in the historic surrounds of St George’s Hall in Liverpool. Award-winning comedian Neil Fitzmaurice was the host for the evening.

Hundreds of applications

In the months leading up to the event, hundreds of applications were received for the 10 award categories, which covered six boroughs in the Liverpool City Region. The final crowned winners of the seven Apprentice of the Year awards were Alexander Faith (Halton), Jessica Whitehead (Knowsley), Annett Foldesi (Liverpool), Jessica Oates (Sefton), Dean Sankey (St Helens), Adam Hill (Wirral), and Gemma Parkinson (25 years and over category).

These seven Merseyside award winners, recognised for their hard work and progress, received their Apprenticeship training from GMLPF members Southport College, Mercia Partnership, St Helen’s College, Liverpool Community College, Intraining and Liverpool Chamber Training.

Award-winning Apprenticeship employers

The three employers recognised for going the extra mile to embed Apprenticeships within their organisations, and for supporting and encouraging their apprentices, were Jaguar Land Rover, Wirral Partnership Homes and Ramada Plaza Hotel, Southport.

As a membership body that champions Apprenticeships and represents over 60 training providers who deliver them on Merseyside, GMLPF were ideally positioned to sponsor the first ever Liverpool City Region Apprenticeships Awards.

Speaking at the event, GMLPF chief executive, Stan Pochron, said:

GMLPF is delighted to sponsor this celebration of Apprenticeship talent on Merseyside. It’s been a real privilege to see the achievements of truly deserving young people, employers and training providers celebrated at such a high profile and dazzling event.

“Representing the region’s Apprenticeships providers, we’re very proud of how diligently our members work to help develop positive, productive and qualified young people like those recognised here tonight”, he continued.

“These apprentices, together with the support of forward-thinking employers like Jaguar Land Rover, Wirral Partnership Homes and Ramada Plaza Hotel Southport, are helping shape the growing success of our region.”

Apprenticeships on Merseyside

Last year, over 11,000 of Merseyside’s young people started an Apprenticeship. They were employed by local employers and supported closely by the region’s expert training providers who deliver high-quality, flexible Apprenticeships training to suit the needs of both employers and young people.

Apprenticeships are real jobs with training giving young people aged 16 and over the opportunity to earn, learn new skills and pick up industry recognised qualifications. They deliver results for businesses too, helping reduce training and recruitment costs, increase productivity, and develop a skilled, loyal workforce.

An ever-increasing number of local employers are committing to the Apprenticeships model as a way of growing their business. Next year’s Apprenticeships Awards promises to showcase more of these pioneering companies as well as another set of the region’s brightest and most ambitious young people.


Further information:

[toggle title=”Full list of winners and runners-up” color=”#b0b0b0″ border=”#525252″ open=”false”]

Winners and runners up

Halton Apprentice of the Year (16-24 years old)

Winner: Alexander Fath (employer: Liverpool John Moores University; Training provider: St Helens College)
Runners up: Elly Campbell; Joe Elson

Knowsley Apprentice of the Year (16-24 years old)
Winner: Jessica Whitehead (employer: Davey’s Chemist; Training provider: Intraining)
Runners up: Daniel Carroll; Mark Meadows

Liverpool Apprentice of the Year (16-24 years old)
Winner: Annett Foldesi (employer: Onion Deli; training provider: Liverpool Community College)
Runners up: Sean Millican; Chelsea Carr

Sefton Apprentice of the Year (16- 24 years old)
Winner: Jessica Oates (employer: Storm Consultancy; training provider: Southport College)
Runners up: Craig Sharman; Wayne Dowling

St Helens Apprentice of the Year (16-24 years old)
Winner: Dean Sankey (employer: St Helens Council; Training provider: St Helens College)
Runners up: Adam Carr; Daniel Crehan

Wirral Apprentice of the Year (16 to 24 years old)
Winner: Adam Hill (Employer: ProperGeeks, Training provider: Mercia Partnership)
Runners up: Eamee Boden, Sarah Brogan

Apprentice of the Year (over 25)
Winner: Gemma Parkinson (employer: Bridge Street Serviced Apartments, training provider: Liverpool Chamber Training)
Runners up: Katharine Conway; Thomas Bartley

Liverpool City Region Apprentice Employer of the Year (SME): Ramada Plaza Hotel, Southport

Liverpool City Region Apprentice Employer of the Year (Large): Wirral Partnership Homes

Liverpool City Region Apprentice Employer of the Year (Macro): Jaguar Land Rover


Case study: Apprentice star Adam is award-winning Proper Geek!

Apprentice star Adam is award-winning Proper Geek!

adamsmallWinning the Wirral Apprentice of the Year title at the Liverpool City Region Apprenticeships Awards this month has marked a milestone in an outstanding journey for one young man from the Wirral and his training provider, Mercia Partnership.

Medical set backs

Adam Hill, now 20, left school at 16 with gaps in his skills and qualifications. A medical condition had led to him missing a whole year of school in Year 10, and experiencing a mixture of home and hospital-based teaching in Year 11.

After completing some basic IT and Key Skills training, Adam, then aged 16, decided that a career in computing was for him. He contacted a local firm, asking for unpaid work experience.  Despite being turned down on a number of occasions, Adam persisted and the company, Proper Geeks, finally agreed that he could work in their workshop for a morning each week.

Committed team member

Adam’s relationship with Proper Geeks grew and, after he had proved himself to be a committed member of the team, the company happily agreed to support him in undertaking an Apprenticeship.

After researching local Apprenticeship training providers, Adam and Proper Geeks approached Mercia Partnership and Adam enrolled on an Apprenticeship in ICT Support with them. Mercia Partnership also provided him with training to boost his maths and English skills. After completing his Apprenticeship, Adam progressed onto an Advanced Apprenticeship which he has also successfully finished.

PC engineer

Throughout both his Apprenticeships training, Adam continued to work diligently in his job at Proper Geeks. As time has passed, Adam’s contribution to the business has increased significantly. He has learned new skills for the company, and put partnerships and processes into place which save Proper Geeks both time and money.  Adam is now the main mobile PC engineer for the company and drives his Proper Geeks van around the Wirral, serving computers at both customers’ houses and business premises.

Steve McGovern of Proper Geeks said:

“We were worried at first that the extra workload of training an apprentice would mean that our business would suffer, but it’s been quite the opposite and, with Adam’s help, we’re now thriving. 

“We first met Adam as a raw, shy and underdeveloped individual but he has continually taken on extra responsibilities and exceeded our expectations.  He has not only won the trust of some of our most respected customers, but he has flourished to become approachable, knowledgeable and pragmatic.”

A career to be proud of

Speaking about his Apprenticeship journey Adam said:

“Missing so much school due to being ill made both my skills and my confidence suffer. I knew I wanted to work with computers and my training with Mercia Partnership, combined with the fantastic support I’ve received from Proper Geeks, has meant that I now have skills and a career to be proud of.”

Positive impact on individuals and businesses

Sandra Birchall, sales and marketing manager at Mercia Partnership, said:

“Adam has achieved a huge amount since undertaking his Apprenticeship and deserves all of the recognition and career success he’s enjoying.

“The progress that Adam has made has, in turn, allowed Proper Geeks to grow as a company, and is a perfect illustration of the positive impact that Apprenticeships have on both individuals and businesses.”

Stan Pochron, chief executive of the Greater Merseyside Learning Providers Federation (GMLPF), the organisation which sponsored the Liverpool City Region Apprenticeship Awards, said:

“Adam has my warmest congratulations on both his award and his achievements as a whole.  His story highlights how the combined encouragement of a supportive training provider and a committed employer can really work to drive the success of a dedicated young person to succeed.”

GMLPF outlines support for schools IAG development

The Times Education Supplement reports that Ofsted’s chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw has indicated schools’ IAG provision could be inspected from September this year.

Impartial advice

Currently, in inspections Ofsted do not grade the careers information, advice and guidance that schools provide their pupils. Across the country, this has created scope for criticism, particularly from Apprenticeship and other FE providers, that schools are not providing impartial advice on the full spectrum of options available to young people at age 16.

Information on vocational options

Stan Pochron, chief executive of Greater Merseyside Learning Providers Federation (GMLPF), which supports a membership network of over 60 organisations delivering Apprenticeships and other learning programmes across Merseyside, comments:

“Many of our members have excellent relationships with local schools, delivering vocational curriculum provision for school pupils, and providing information about vocational options. This often involves attending careers fairs and delivering presentations to highlight opportunities for school leavers including Apprenticeships and the Key To Apprenticeships programme.

Support through GMLPF members

“Since the responsibility for impartial information, advice and guidance moved from the careers service to schools, our members have been concerned that due to their many obligations, many schools may not have the understanding of the breadth of choice available. They are only too happy to offer any support they can to schools keen to develop and build on their understanding of Apprenticeships and other vocational options.”

GMLPF is currently working with its members to develop advice and support services for schools who are developing their IAG provision. Any schools that wish to find out what support they can access are invited to contact Stan Pochron on 0151 707 8775 or email

National Apprenticeships Week 2013

BarclaysimageThe key theme for Apprenticeships Week which starts today and runs all week is “Apprenticeships Deliver”. The aim this year is to highlight what apprenticeships can deliver for both employers and individuals.

National social media campaign

There are different ways learning providers can get involved. The most cost-effective is through social media. This year’s comprehensive Apprenticeships Week toolkit provides a detailed outline of how partners can participate in a national social media campaign all week. The campaign spans various platforms including twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.

Michael John Academy team up with Barclays

Apprentices at Michael John Academy in Liverpool (pictured) will be taking part in innovative games and activities about money management throughout the week. These activities, delivered by Academy staff, come under the National Financial Capability programme, supported by the National Skills Academy for Financial Services and Barclays. They are designed to help learners stay in control of their budget, covering themes such as food, fashion, family and independent living. Volunteers from Barclays will be on site all week, providing advice tailored for young people.

FE Week photography competition

As part of National Apprenticeship Week celebrations, FE Week is running a photography competition. Apprenticeships providers are invited to encourage their learners to take a photograph that represents their apprenticeship. The apprentice who submits the best picture before March 18th as voted by FE readers will win a Nikon D5100 DSLR camera kit.

More details on FE Week photography competition

Judging process begins for Liverpool City Region Apprenticeships Awards

With hundreds of nominations received for the Liverpool City Region Apprenticeships Awards, the judging process is now underway to produce a shortlist of the City Region’s most promising apprentices and most committed employers.

Local spotlight for Apprenticeships
GMLPF are delighted to be sponsoring the first ever Liverpool City Region Apprenticeships Awards which shine a well-deserved local spotlight on the Government’s flagship training programme for young people.

Recognition for Apprenticeships providers
GMLPF also welcomes the opportunity these awards bring for recognition of its members – independent learning providers and colleges who deliver Apprenticeships programmes locally.  These Apprenticeships providers work tirelessly to deliver a flexible programme of high quality training, tailored to the needs of the City Region’s young people and businesses.   

There are 10 awards in three categories:

Category One – Apprentice of the Year (16-24): Awards for Halton, Knowsley, Liverpool, Sefton, St Helens, Wirral

Category Two – Apprentice of the Year (Over 25)

Category Three – Apprentice Employer of the Year: Awards for small, medium and large employer categories

Winners will be announced at an awards ceremony on Tuesday 12 March 2013 at the magnificent St George’s Hall in Liverpool.

Academy tutor makes her mark shaping promising career paths for school pupils

mjolnewtutorA new tutor at Michael John Academy has already made her mark by helping school pupils carve out pathways for promising careers in hairdressing.

Stacey Atkinson (pictured right) joins Michael John Academy as hairdressing tutor with responsibilities that include delivering high quality skills training programmes in schools.

Outstanding skills
Since taking up her post, Stacey has been teaching hairdressing skills to students in years 10 and 11 at Broadgreen High School. In a short time, she has had a very positive impact, inspiring students to work hard and make great progress along their hairdressing career path. They showcased the outstanding skills they have already developed at a recent hair and make-up competition organised by Stacey.

Employer links
Stacey also arranged a visit to the new city centre premises of Michael John Academy for Broadgreen pupils. The year 11 students took a tour of the hairdressing, beauty and spa facilities. They also practiced their interview skills with Academy staff who went on to arrange work experience opportunities for them with local employers.

Progress to Apprenticeships
The students from Broadgreen have now enrolled on Apprenticeships programmes at Michael John Academy which are due to commence once they leave school in June.

Michael John Academy offers high quality hair and beauty Apprenticeships, and a comprehensive service to help schools develop and maintain a successful vocational curriculum.

For further information visit

GMLPF raises Apprenticeships awareness in schools

educatecoverThe latest edition of Educate magazine hit Merseyside schools last week with a GMLPF-sponsored 7-page section on Apprenticeships.

Educate is a free Merseyside magazine specialising in local education news and issues. Printed three times a year, the publication is distributed via schools, supermarkets, libraries and other public outlets. With 70,000 printed for each edition, the magazine is widely read by teachers, pupils and parents.

The Educate Plus section in the magazine focuses on training. GMLPF sponsored this section to create a platform for its members to communicate with pupils and parents. This is one strand of GMLPF’s overall strategy to improve awareness of Apprenticeships in schools.

The GMLPF-sponsored Educate Plus section consists of features on:

  • Features & benefits of Apprenticeships
  • Supporting apprentices with learning difficulties & disabilities
  • Apprenticeships as a route to university
  • School & learning provider partnerships
  • Merseyside Hairdressing Forum
  • Key To Apprenticeships
  • Local Apprenticeship case studies

Several GMLPF members took adverts in the section to maximise their exposure. There will be further opportunities to get involved in the next two editions of Educate (May & September).

View the entire GMLPF-sponsored section