They are a long-standing but declining tradition of British industry. Millions started their careers over the years with an apprenticeship, including many thousands of workers at the former York Carriageworks.

Now credit card services firm CPP, based on the site of the train-making factory in Holgate Park, York, is launching its own apprenticeship scheme, in what is believed to be the first project of its kind in the call centre sector. The company is working with specialist training provider YH Training Services Ltd, to deliver a detailed 12-month apprenticeship programme leading to NVQ level 2 and the offer of full-time employment with the company.

An initial pilot will provide places for up to eight apprentices, who will receive three months of training, both off-site and at the CPP Academy, before going live and joining the company’s Contact Centre team. The Apprentices, whose pay will increase as they progress from the Academy to Contact Centre, will have a dedicated manager to mentor them.Their work will involve providing life assistance services for more than ten million customers across Europe, North America and Asia.

Shirley Young, Senior Operations Manager for recruitment at CPP, which is one of York’s leading private sector employers, said the aim was to offer employment opportunities for people of all ages and from all backgrounds. “We believe that this is the first apprenticeship scheme of its kind in our sector and are working closely with YH Training to ensure that we equip apprentices with the inter-personal customer handling skills that will start them off on a solid footing and help them to build a career at CPP.”

Vicki Gray, business development officer based at YH Training’s York offices, said that the customised programme developed in partnership with CPP was innovative and forward thinking.  She said: “It is designed to give the apprentices the communications skills and confidence that they need to achieve success in a highly successful and progressive company, while also gaining a valuable vocational qualification.” CPP, which is working with the Local Employment Partnership and Job Centre Plus, will review the scheme after six months, with a view to expanding the programme.

For details about the first apprenticeship scheme, phone YH Training on 01904 666713.