There’s an enterprising life after the dole queue

A Tunstall couple’s new business is booming – just two years after they were both left without jobs.

Andrew Fisher was unemployed for six months before enrolling on the Stoke-on-Trent City Council funded Test Trading scheme to help the city’s jobless start up their own business.

The 38-year-old, who runs motor electronic control unit supply business ECU-Express with his wife Sarah, is now looking to expand and take on extra staff as turnover increases by 30 per cent. Continue reading

Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service Apprentices Blaze Ahead

Ten new apprentices at Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service have been hard at work in their new roles.

The apprentices, 7 apprentice firefighters, 2 business administration apprentices and a motor vehicle apprentice are based at locations across the County.

The successful candidates were selected from the 50 applications received from 18-24 year olds nationwide and the apprenticeships are helping to shape the futures of these young people.

I saw the advert for the apprenticeships and applied immediately as I have always aspired to be a firefighter.

I don’t mind having to travel to Staffordshire, I’m based at Stafford Fire Station on Blue Watch and I’m a firefighter in development and undergo the same rigorous training as my colleagues.

My apprenticeship only allows me to work 30 hours a week so I join the watch for two days and one night shift as my usual working week. I highly value my job and I am hoping that by the end of my apprenticeship I will be successful in securing a position to remain in Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service. I would recommend the programme to anyone, as it is a great way to give individuals the opportunity to become a firefighter and the programme is worth its weight in gold.

The apprentices are following the Emergency Fire Service Operations Framework and gain the core firefighter qualifications of a BTEC Level 3 (Technical Certificate), NVQ Level 3 and Key Skills at Level 2. Once trained, they will have the opportunity to apply for available positions within Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service.

James Russell, 18 from Stafford was a successful applicant to work within Business Administration and is based at Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service’s Headquarters in Stone, within the Training and Development team.

The administration and correspondence of all of the training courses at Staffordshire Fire and Rescue goes through the office I’m based in and we are often inundated with emails and requests.

Despite such a large workload, I have a great time and really enjoy my work. This is mainly due to the people in and around the office and everyday being different, giving me the chance to meet new people. I’m very grateful to have been given this opportunity.

The apprentices are employed by The Apprenticeship Works who employ apprentices for various business and organisation across the West Midlands.

“We wanted to take advantage of the benefits apprenticeships bring to our organisation and are using this programme as a means of unlocking young talent within our local community.

“This will ensure we continue to have a workforce equipped with the skills which are required to be successful not only for today but also in the future.”
The apprenticeships programme is funded by the Government and Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service are one of only a few Fire and Rescue Service’s to link in with a third party.

Riverside Employment Training Centre [Video]

Yesterday Tony Walley went along to the new Riverside Employment Training Centre for the official opening.


The Riverside Employment Training Centre

The Riverside Centre specialises in helping adults with learning difficulties in to employment and worked based training. Â  The million pound centre opened its doors in November but had its official opening on Thursday with Stoke City Chairman Peter Coates joining Lord Mayor Derek Capey and Elected Mayor Mark Meredith to cut the ribbon and open the centre. Councillor Ellie Walker was at the opening along with Rob Flello MP.

P Coates cutting the ribbon to open the Riverside Centre
Peter Coates cutting the ribbon to officially open the Riverside Centre

Since November the facility has already helped 43 adults with learning disabilities into work or work placements, and a further seven are completing courses to develop their job skills.  Adults are referred to the Riverside centre on a rolling basis. They have their needs assessed and are able to enter onto a 16-week Smart Start programme to learn work skills and put those skills into practice on work placements. At the end of the course, staff work with the trainees to support them into paid or voluntary employment, depending on their wishes.

David M
David Meeson – Riverside Centre user.

The million pound Stoke-on-Trent City Council facility, which  replaces the Hamilton Centre in Fenton, will help users gain skills which can  be put to use in service sector jobs, such as self presentation and interview  skills, developing CVs, interacting in groups and improving their health and  safety awareness.

Tony interviewed David Meeson & Sandra Robertson who are centre users as well as Peter Coats and Mark Meredith.