YOUNG people interested in a new direction packed out the very first apprenticeship fair to be held at Weymouth College.

They were joined by local business people who wished to find out more about taking on an apprentice.

Around 250 school students also visited yesterday afternoon and spoke to the 35 employers that exhibited – among them the Dorset Echo, the fair’s media partner.

It was organised in partnership with the Weymouth and Portland Chamber of Commerce and South Dorset MP Richard Drax.

Speaking to students and potential apprentices, Mr Drax said: “Young people can do anything they want to do.

“If you want to do something you can achieve it – my message to you is to go out there and grab every opportunity you can because life is very, very short.

“There are other choices for you besides A levels and university.”

Dorset businesses and services exhibiting included Sunseeker, the Hive Beach Cafe, FGP Precision Engineering, Dorset County Hospital and Portland Stone.

Lord Digby Jones, business ambassador at UK Trade and Investment, said he wanted to inspire business leaders to take on apprentices.

He said: “I’ve always believed passionately in apprenticeships.

“It’s a delight and a privilege to be here. We’re in a world where we need people with more skills.

“This is about matching young people who want an apprenticeship with people who will give them one.”

College principal Liz Myles welcomed guests to the fair.

She said: “I’m very pleased and proud to say that this region is leading the way in apprenticeships.

“The Dorset, Bournemouth and Poole region has the highest apprentice success rate in the country.”

On the hunt for an apprentice was Weymouth firm Heavenly Bump.

The maternity clothing company has gone from strength to strength since its owners set it up nearly four years ago and is set to sell its clothes through Next from April 7.

Exhibitor Amy-Kate Crane said the firm’s apprenticeship was a real opportunity for a young person.

“I don’t think many people know they can do an apprenticeship at a fashion business here in Weymouth.

“It’s a great opportunity to come and earn and learn at the same time,” she said.

Andy Steel, representing Future Physiques gym in Waverley Road, Weymouth, visited the fair to find out more about taking on apprentices at the gym.

He said: “I’m here to find out what the legalities are and what we can get out of it.

“Many young people want to be personal trainers and gym assistants and we can help them achieve this.”

Interest in apprenticeships

SCHOOL students interested in doing an apprenticeship spent the afternoon at the fair.

Robert Barrie, of All Saints School in Weymouth, said he was interested in finding out more about an apprenticeship, possibly with Sunseeker.

“My cousin works for a company that works with them and I’ve heard a lot about them.

“It’s local to Dorset and it’s a good local firm,” he said.

His classmate Alfie Carney said he thinks an apprenticeship would be a preferable option to A-levels.

“I’m interested in doing something with the air force or the army. I’m hoping to get inspired by the companies exhibiting today.”

Guido Dereumaux, also of the Weymouth school, said he was interested in engineering or architecture and was getting plenty of ideas from the fair.