A ground-breaking partnership in County Durham will boost job prospects for young people through a new education and employment pathway.
Seaham-based Great Annual Savings Group (GAS) has joined forces with East Durham College (EDC) in an agreement to deliver bespoke traineeships, apprenticeships and a fast-track to guaranteed jobs.
GAS announced dramatic growth plans in July, creating 300 jobs within its operations across the UK. Since then, the Group has worked closely with EDC to ensure a pathway for young people to access a portion of those jobs through apprenticeships in a variety of specialisms.
With the agreement signed and sealed, the apprenticeships will begin enrolment in March 2021.
GAS Chief Executive Brad Groves was born and raised in Easington Lane and is passionate about creating opportunities in the region; a vision shared by EDC Principal and Chief Executive, Suzanne Duncan.
Mr Groves has praised Ms Duncan and the College for their fast-acting approach to delivering further opportunities as the region’s job market shrinks in the face of the global pandemic.
He said: “I’m pleased we have found a like-minded partner in EDC who can deliver this vision for the region together with us.
“There are not many businesses investing in young people in this manner anywhere in the country. Rising unemployment and decreasing entry-level jobs mean that they are facing more challenges than ever. I want them to see that people from County Durham can still have an exciting career, as I have.
“This partnership will see recruits undertake a six-week traineeship at EDC’s Peterlee Campus, before moving into GAS’ purpose-built Performance and Development Hub where they will complete the 15-month fast-track programme. Potential earnings almost double upon completion of the apprenticeship, which is well above market average for an apprentice. The grand prize at the end is a guaranteed job with the Group upon completion.
“In such a fast-moving company, the opportunities for further development beyond this are endless.”
“The benefits of working with EDC are significant for GAS. Their facilities are first-class and their breadth of academic and vocational courses covers everything from horticulture to business management, which is reflective of the wide range of apprenticeships on offer. There will be roles available in sales, business development, marketing, IT, HR and more. The scheme truly does offer a unique pathway of opportunities for the young people of the region.”
Suzanne Duncan, Principal and Chief Executive of EDC, said: “This partnership is an extremely important and exciting development for the college, the region and especially the students and communities we serve.
“It’s clear there will be major challenges faced in the local jobs market, particularly by young people, as the impact of COVID bites. The apprenticeships available through the GAS Performance and Development Hub offer genuine hope and a fantastic, potentially life changing, opportunity to scores of local people to join a hugely successful local employer.
“We are absolutely delighted to be working with Brad and his team; creating a range of opportunities for the people of County Durham, and beyond, that will have real impact on both them and the regional economy.”
GAS won a regional National Apprenticeship Award for “best newcomer apprenticeship provider of the year (SME)” in 2017 and represented the North East at the national awards in London.
The Group’s previous apprentices have gone on to earn promotions and further personal development qualifications with the business since completing their courses.
GAS will begin taking expressions of interest over the next few weeks on its website, with the apprenticeship recruitment process beginning in December 2020.
This is just the latest good-news story to come from GAS, with more exciting growth projects to be announced in the coming months.