THREE apprentices at one of Rossendale’s biggest employers got the chance to meet the Prime Minister during National Apprentice Week.
Megan Bateson, Anne Levelle and Zak Craven all work at Bacup-based kitchen, bedroom and bathroom manufacturer J and J Ormerod (JJO).
They attended BAE Systems in Warton, Preston, with Rossendale and Darwen MP Jake Berry where they came face-to-face with David Cameron who was launching degree apprenticeships.
Megan, 19, from Rawtenstall is just coming to the end of a year-long apprenticeship in customer service and has been taken on full-time at JJO.
She said: “He was asking us what we all did with the company and if business was good.
“I told him I worked in the warehouse doing different jobs and yes the business was busy.”
Zak, 20, from Stacksteads, has nearly completed his second year as an apprentice forklift truck engineer.
“It is good to do an apprenticeship but the starting wage needs to be more,” he said.
Anne, 18, finishes her customer service apprenticeship in August. She was interested in the idea of a degree apprenticeship as long as the right subjects were on offer.
Joint managing director of JJO Stephen Greenhalgh said: “My Grandfather Ellis Greenhalgh was apprenticed to the original Ormerod brothers after whom the company was named, so apprenticeships at JJO are a 100-year long tradition.
“Currently we have 12 apprentices, in roles ranging from wood machinist to joinery and general administration.”
One of the innovative apprentice roles is a Large Goods Vehicle driver, LGV.
Transport manager Dave Tomlinson said: “There is a chronic shortage of Class 1 LGV drivers in this country and there are few companies that offer the comprehensive training programme we do.
“We start apprentices working in the warehouse so that they get used to the products then, as and when the need arises, we offer apprenticeships to become Class 1 LGV drivers.”
One such apprentice is Tommy Butler, 22. He said: “I got my driving licence in March 2011 when I was 18 and I enjoy driving so when I saw the job advertised I wrote in and was accepted.
“I am driving vans at the moment and the furthest I have been is Lincoln. I wanted to better myself and this will give me the chance.”
Sophie Clayton, 19, discovered she had a talent at Computer Aided Design, completed an apprenticeship and gained her qualifications at JJO and is now a full-time employee.
She said: “Being an apprentice means you can get the qualifications while also receiving a wage and get that experience an employer is looking for,” she said. “You can also get a full-time job at the end, which is what I did.”