Skills Minister joins Leeds Rhinos, Leeds City College and Redcentric for launch of pioneering scheme to mark National Apprenticeship Week

The Skills Minister has attended the launch of a ‘groundbreaking’ scheme in Yorkshire to mark National Apprenticeship Week.

Leeds City College and IT company Redcentric have been working with Leeds Rhinos to design an IT sales apprenticeship aimed at their athletes of all genders and abilities.

The arrangement gives professional and amateur athletes access to a world-class training programme while guaranteeing them employment in the UK’s IT services sector – effectively offering the best of both worlds.  Part of a wider project to expand and diversify Redcentric’s talent pool, the apprenticeship will also support the Leeds Rhinos Diversity and Inclusion plan and the Rugby Football League’s “Tackle It” initiative.

The Minister for Skills, Apprenticeships and Higher Education, Robert Halfon MP, was among the VIPs attending when Leeds Rhinos hosted the scheme’s launch event on 7 February. He said: “This new apprenticeship will help to not just tackle skills shortages, it’ll level the playing field for all.

“This is a huge, forward-looking investment from Leeds Rhinos who already employ many apprentices, offering a ladder of opportunity so that adults can retrain at any stage of their career, get involved in booming sectors like IT and tech and build a skills and apprenticeships nation.”

Bill Jones, Executive Principal at Leeds City College, said: “Despite the current economic backdrop, we want to be able to offer existing and future apprentices value-added courses that enhance their knowledge.

“The IT Services market in the United Kingdom is projected to grow by 6.74% and we want to build a future pipeline of talent to help drive growth across the sector and deliver great outcomes, not only for the Leeds City Region but for the UK.”

Also present at the launch was Jamie Jones Buchanan, Leeds Rhinos’ Head of Culture, Diversity and Inclusivity. Addressing the unique appeal of the initiative, he said:Through this apprenticeship scheme we are hoping to bridge the gap between sports and business, equipping sports people with the skills, tools and techniques to move into business at the appropriate point within their sporting career.”

The 12-month apprenticeship has been tailored to ensure apprentices are equipped with the skills and knowledge needed to successfully sell products while following the correct procedures. The project’s Collaborative Apprenticeship Scheme component, meanwhile, will include a fully funded Cyber and Spreadsheets short course that will be taught remotely.

Redcentric, which is hoping to recruit around 50 apprentices over the next 12 to 24 months, launched a pilot of the IT technician sales apprenticeship at the end of 2022.  There are currently four pioneers of the scheme in place with an academy player from Leeds Rhinos already signed up and set to join in February. There are plans to recruit 10 Rhinos players to take on an apprenticeship with the firm, or other suitable employers, as the scheme grows.

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