APPRENTICESHIP placements are growing in popularity across all industries as the benefits to both employee and employer are being felt across Hampshire.

Helping that drive are organisations like the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Community Foundation (HIWCF) which sponsors apprentices, negating the need for organisations that might not otherwise be able to fund the post to foot the bill.

The fund offers the chance for organisations in the voluntary and charity sector to take on an apprentice without having to worry about the cost.

This year saw funding for around 30 apprentices up for grabs with most of those posts already placed by the Hampshire Youth Options organisation.

The charity arranges the placements and matches apprenticeships with organisations whilst also looking after the apprentices’ development through the scheme as they work towards the qualifications they get whilst on the job.

Chief executive officer at the HIWCF Toni Shaw said: “The idea behind the apprenticeship scheme was simple – HIWCF fundholders are here to help our communities especially the vulnerable and disadvantaged people across our communities, we want to strengthen our voluntary sector and finally our fundholders want to help young people into work. This scheme achieves all of these goals.”

HIWCF provides a grant of up to £3,500 to pay towards the salary and expenses for an apprentice, and the voluntary or community group need to find the rest which usually works out at £3,000 although first time placements do qualify for a further government grant.

Once taken on the apprentices are assigned a development worker to ensure they successfully work towards relevant NVQ qualifications whilst they are in post for the year-long placement.

After the 12 months is completed the aim is that the young person will be offered a job within the voluntary sector or go on to get work in their local private or public sector.

Over the coming year it is anticipated further funding will be available for another ten to 20 apprentices.

Aimee Cuerden is one teenager who is already experiencing the world of work thanks to her placement with the Youth Options organisation.

While some of her peers may get block placements and day release to experience what life is like in an office environment Aimee gets that each and every day in her job as an administration assistant.

The 16-year-old is responsible for a whole host of admin tasks in the charity's head quarters in Romsey including organising office supplies, deliveries, responding to email requests and organising events.

She said: “It has given me great hands on experience, every day I am learning or improving my skills. I think it has really boosted my confidence too as I am in an adult environment all the time and feel like I am part of a team.

"It has improved my skills and taught me a lot about organising myself as I am treated like any other member of staff with real responsibilities.”