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The Trafford College Group is marking National Apprenticeship Week by celebrating the vital role of apprentices during the Covid-19 pandemic, five of whom are supporting the delivery of crucial medical supplies for Nightingale hospitals. 

With apprenticeships spanning dozens of curriculum areas, many College Group trainees have been performing essential tasks on the frontline in areas such as teaching and science as well as within the NHS, while studying for their qualifications through successive lockdowns. 

Among the unsung heroes are a group of engineering and business administration apprentices who have been helping Old Trafford-based, Oxylitre, meet a 30 per cent surge in demand for its medical devices throughout the pandemic, including oxygen-based alternatives to ventilators. 

The trainees have been instrumental in performing quality control, production and administrative duties, enabling experienced staff to work round-the-clock in the manufacture, supply and maintenance of critical care apparatus to save lives around the globe. 

Oxylitre Group Product, Research & Development and HR Manager, Clive Francis, said: “Apprentices have played a pivotal role in our operations. They’re receptive, keen and have even taught us a thing or two to help streamline our working practices and operate more cost efficiently, with the ideas from their classrooms.  

“I can’t think of anything more rewarding than helping the next generation into the job market and helping them to grow and become confident. We only feel immense pride when we watch someone gain a skill set that they can take with them for the rest of their lives.  

“We have a great relationship with the College Group, staff are always available on the phone or in person when we need them, and its apprenticeships form an integral part of our strategic planning for future growth. We only hope our apprentices stay with us to get the full benefits of permanent roles with the company.”  

Apprentices are trained up in several different departments at Oxylitre depending on their interests, including the invention room where bespoke products are made, and trainees are matched to the right courses run by the College Group to suit the needs of the company. 

College Group Assistant Principal – Adult Skills and Apprenticeships, Joan Scott, said: “I’m incredibly proud of how our apprentices, their employers and our dedicated team of staff have adapted to the ever-changing circumstances we have all experienced over the past year due to Covid. This National Apprenticeship Week I would like to give particular praise to those performing vital services for our community at a time of great need, these people are real unsung heroes.”  

To find out more about Apprentices or the Government’s £2 billion Kickstarter Scheme, funding work placements for young people, please visit the Apprenticeship sections of Trafford College and Stockport College websites or contact the The Trafford College Group Apprenticeship Team on (0161) 8867461.