• George Ritchie MBE
  • Jason Holt CBE
Chairman North East Apprenticeship Ambassador Network and member of the National AAN

What does being an ambassador mean to you?

Dedicating my time and influence to help grow apprenticeship opportunities in North East businesses.

Working in partnership with the National Apprenticeship Service and other business leaders locally and nationally to promote the many benefits of employing apprentices.

Why you do it?

I am immensely proud to be Chair of the North East ambassador network as a former apprentice myself who has built a successful career from that great experience. I feel it is giving something back and transforming the lives of people starting their apprenticeship journey.

The role is rewarding personally and professionally providing senior networking opportunities, raising the profile of my own employer and the North East region. Being an ambassador has led to meeting many inspiring apprentices and leaders from across the public and private sector.

The benefits of employing an apprentice?

Too many to list them all. I believe that any business that employs people will benefit from apprenticeships. Transferring skills in the workplace is crucial to success and there is no better way to grow your own talent. I have found that the best apprenticeship programmes are embedded in a company’s strategy with clear measures of success that mirror the aims of the business. Apprenticeships are proven to deliver bottom line business benefits when integrated in this way.

Apprenticeship ambassador for SMEs and CEO of the Holts Group

As an employer running small businesses in technology and jewellery, who has taken on apprentices, it’s extraordinary and I am often amazed by the impact apprentices have on the businesses. You feel like you’ve given them a break in life and are helping them build a new life for themselves.

That’s why the Apprenticeship network is very important and effective. It is a way for likeminded people to get together and share best practise and views. It’s a support network to help promote apprenticeships and explain why others should follow suit.

"The Apprenticeship network is a means of getting likeminded people together, and it’s seen as a hub for other employers to go to as first point of call. It’s a great door opener."

I was asked to write the review on SMEs and one thing led to another, which resulted in me being part of the AAN. The network is really important to me, it’s all about the initial building blocks for a sustainable and mainstream educational model.

To be part of that feels very lucky.