His Royal Highness The Duke of York KG To Launch Leeds City Region Apprenticeship Challenge


His Royal Highness The Duke of York KG is due to visit Leeds City Region next month to encourage more small businesses to recruit apprentices, as part of wider moves to boost young people's skills and kick-start economic growth.

His Royal Highness will meet apprentices, students, small businesses, civic leaders and private sector business representatives from Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) during a one-day tour in Leeds on Tuesday, March 4th.

The Duke will launch the Leeds City Region Apprenticeship Challenge, which aims to increase the number of SMEs offering apprenticeships by 1,000 during the next financial year. The visit is being led by the LEP.

Roger Marsh, Chair of Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership, said: “We welcome the Duke of York’s visit to the region to highlight the importance of investing time and resources into our young people and showcase the fantastic apprentice opportunities our region boasts.

"This visit will kickstart Apprenticeship Week 2014 and help businesses in the region understand the benefits an apprentice can bring to their workforce whilst at the same time giving a young person a step up onto the career ladder. The LEP is committed to encouraging more SMEs to take on apprentices to tackle youth unemployment and generate economic growth for the regional and national economy.”

His Royal Highness is scheduled to:

* Meet apprentices and students at Leeds College of Building's Stourton site on Intermezzo Drive.

* Meet apprentices and students, and officially open Leeds City College's new £26 million Printworks campus on Hunslet Road.

* Attend a business lunch and debate with the LEP Board to discuss their aspirations and priorities for the region, hosted by Leeds City College at its Food Academy restaurant.

* Address SMEs and meet apprentices at a business conference at the Royal Armouries, organised by the LEP, and launch the Leeds City Region Apprenticeship Challenge to increase the number of SMEs offering apprenticeships by 1,000 during the next financial year.

* Congratulate apprentice nominees and their employers attending the Leeds Apprenticeship Awards ceremony at Leeds Civic Hall.

Businesses will be asked to pledge their support to take on an apprentice at a conference at the Royal Armouries where His Royal Highness will address approximately 200 SMEs invited from across Leeds City Region. Guests will also find out about the free and independent advice available from the Leeds City Region Apprenticeship Hubs which have recently launched across ten local authority areas to make it easier for SMEs to recruit apprentices.

The Royal visit coincides with National Apprenticeship Week from March 3rd to 7th. The Duke's current portfolio is to assist with the creation of skilled jobs and the economic success of the United Kingdom and covers education and skills, science and engineering, and small and medium enterprises and entrepreneurship.

Peter Roberts, Chief Executive and Principal of Leeds City College, said: “We are delighted to be welcoming His Royal Highness to our new Printworks Campus. It is a great honour for Leeds City College to be able to highlight the work we are doing with young people and employers to help drive up skills and employment opportunities in the region, as well as having the opportunity to showcase the latest addition to the College’s property portfolio.”

Ian Billyard, Principal of Leeds College of Building, added: “Both businesses and the economy benefit greatly from taking on apprentices and, as the only specialist construction college in the UK, we work with hundreds of SMEs both in the region and across the country to train over 900 apprentices every year. Apprenticeships are the ideal way to deliver the skills for the future, and we welcome any initiative that highlights the plethora of benefits apprenticeships provide.”

Leeds City Region brings together the ten local authority areas of Barnsley, Bradford, Calderdale, Craven, Harrogate, Kirklees, Leeds, Selby, Wakefield and York. It is the UK’s largest economic area outside London, with a population of three million, more than 100,000 businesses, a £53 billion economy, and generates 4% of the UK’s economic output.

The LEP's main aim is to create more opportunities for businesses to develop jobs. The LEP brings together the private and public sector, including local authorities, in order to achieve that.