A joint initiative by the Norse Group and Norfolk County Council to help get young people into work via apprenticeships has been hailed as a major success story.

Nearly 100 young people were taken on by the Norse Group in 2012 as part of a major investment by the company and the county council worth around £1.7m to get school leavers into work at a time of great economic uncertainty.

County councillor Ian Mackie met more than 20 apprentices past and present last Friday (January 27) and heard some of their inspirational stories about how many had gone onto secure jobs with a bright future.

Cllr Mackie, Deputy Leader of the Council when his initiative was launched, and now a director on the Norse Group Board, said: “Five years ago, the country was still turning a corner economically and the County Council leadership wanted to do something immediate and effective to help support local young people into work – and so the Norse apprenticeship programme was born as part of a range of initiatives.

“It has been fantastic to return and hear some amazing stories about what these inspirational and special young people have achieved in regards to their careers, training, qualifications and personal development. I am delighted that the company has exciting plans to carry on investing in the future. Norse are supporting local jobs whilst at the same time growing its own talent, it’s a real win-win.

“It was personally very special to hear from an employee who told me that Norse offered him an apprenticeship when nobody else would take a chance on him back in 2012. He is now in a permanent position and doing very well. I would encourage as many businesses as possible to support Norfolk’s young people in this way, as some young people just need a foot in the door and a chance. The rewards can be enormous.”

Caitlin Jones was one of the Norse Group 2012 cohort and left school without finishing her A levels. She has since risen to be a manager in Human Resources with Norse Commercial Services at its headquarters in Fifers Lane.

At the time she had no interest in going to university, but she has now completed a post graduate diploma gained through the company releasing her one day a week to go to college… and lots of home study after work!

She said: “I left school half way through my A levels and went into HR which has turned out to be a job I love. I had done a bit of work experience in HR, but I’m very grateful for the opportunity I was given. I’ve just finished my degree and that’s something I would not have thought possible a few years ago.”

Norse Group’s three companies – Norse Commercial Services, NPS and NorseCare – have in the past offered a range of apprentice opportunities in areas such as grounds maintenance, surveying and health care and will be playing a full part when the Government’s new apprenticeship initiative comes into force in April this year.

Dean Wetteland, Managing Director of Norse Commercial Services, said: “Going to university isn’t for everyone and as a Group we are always keen to develop new talent. Our apprentices have brought great energy and enthusiasm to their jobs. We remain committed as a company to apprenticeships. We currently have around 40 up and down the country and they are a truly impressive bunch.”