A teenage plumbing apprentice is among those in the region to be loaned a laptop through a digital inclusion scheme – enabling him to take part in online meetings with his tutors.
Tyler Johnson, 18, from Sudbury, is studying for a Level 3 Plumbing Apprenticeship at West Suffolk College and his new laptop arrived earlier in December thanks to the funding programme.
New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership successfully secured £198,289 from the European Social Fund for a Digital Inclusion Project that will see more than 200 laptops and Chromebooks with free data packages loaned out.
This digital lifeline is being thrown to unemployed people applying for jobs and completing online training, and apprentices doing coursework remotely. Most of the laptops have already been delivered and will start being used after the festive and New Year break.
Tyler works four days a week helping his brother Curtis with his plumbing business and one day a week on his course at West Suffolk College.
“I have to do a Zoom call with the college every couple of weeks,” he said. “My last laptop didn’t have a microphone or camera, so now I will be able to become more involved in things.
“They asked me if I needed a laptop and I said yes because it’s so much easier to work on a new one. It will make life a hundred per cent easier.”
The following organisations and projects in the region are benefitting from the scheme:
- Routes to Work and Norfolk Community College, run by East Coast College, which help unemployed adults find work or build their skills and confidence to help them get work in the future.
- Apprenticeships New Anglia run by Moore Networking, and Apprenticeships Suffolk run by Suffolk County Council, which enable people to successfully secure apprenticeships.
- Minding the Gap, run by Community Action Suffolk, On Track, run by the Matthew Project, and RYPE, run by West Suffolk College, which support young people in building workplace skills and confidence.
Emma Taylor, Funding Manager at New Anglia LEP, said she was delighted the bid for funding had been successful and that most of the laptops would be delivered before Christmas.
“During a pandemic when so many training schemes, courses and job interviews are being conducted remotely, it’s more important than ever that young apprentices and people struggling to find work are supported,” she said.
“Ensuring we have the skills in this region to meet future demands is going to be a significant factor in how well our economy recovers from the impact of Covid-19, and we have to give people the tools they need.”
Councillor Mary Evans, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, Education and Skills at Suffolk County Council, said: “I am grateful to the New Anglia LEP for leading on this project, which is enabling Suffolk County Council to make life so much easier for the participants of our Apprenticeship Suffolk Service by providing them with the equipment they need to get digitally connected. Hopefully this added bonus will go a long way in helping Tyler, and the other participants of the service, to be successful.”