A North East training company has beaten hundreds of tenderers to secure a six-figure government contract to increase apprenticeships.

BL Training, which has training centres in Newcastle, Sunderland, Durham, Darlington and Middlesbrough, is one of only three companies nationally selected to deliver the ASK Project, following a competitive tender process.

The initiative, commissioned by the National Apprenticeship Service and the Skills Funding Agency, aims to support the government’s target of achieving three million apprenticeship starts by 2020.

As lead provider for the North region which covers from the Scottish borders down to the Humber, the firm is offering a range of free “inspirational and engaging” apprenticeship and traineeship support to schools and colleges that have pupils ages 14-18.

Several other local training providers are also benefitting from the contract win after BL enlisted the support of members of professional body, North East Learning Providers, to help deliver the project in the North East – from Northumberland, down to the Tees Valley.

The ASK project involves working with teachers, careers advisers, parents and governors to ensure they meet their statutory duty of providing impartial information, advice and guidance (IAG) on education pathways and career options, particularly apprenticeships and traineeships.

The support includes providing group assemblies and information sessions, signing students up to find an apprenticeship, apprenticeship application workshops for students, apprenticeship champion training for careers advisers and teachers and parents evenings.

Gail Dalton-Ayres, Director at BL Training which is a member of the North East Learning Providers network, said:

“I originally put the bid in as my rational was that training provider networks like North East Learning Providers are best placed to offer schools up-to-date advice and guidance on traineeships and apprenticeships, including the reform changes and the increase in higher and degree apprenticeship routes, as this is what we do – day in, day out.

“It’s an excellent project and is free to schools. As well as providing young people with invaluable support about their next career steps, it also highlights the excellent work that regional training providers do in terms of giving school leavers progressive routes to employment and achieving degrees whilst earning a salary.”

BL Training specialises in developing customised training solutions for businesses throughout the North East. They provide training in customer service, team leading, leadership and management, business and administration, TAQAs (assessor and verifier awards), apprenticeship careers advice and guidance, retail, hairdressing and barbering.

Schools and colleges wanting further information or to sign-up to take part can go to www.amazingapprenticeships.com or contact Gail Dalton-Ayres at BL Training gda@bl-training.org.uk.