WITH a range of Forest firms gearing up to inspire the next generation of employees at a “ground-breaking” event this month, the organisers are turning the spotlight on the young people already benefiting from the skills and experience of businesses on their doorstep.

The Forest Economic Partnership (FEP) is hosting its second ‘Inspiring the Forest’ event at Gloucestershire College in Cinderford on June 30, and is celebrating the successes of existing local apprenticeships in anticipation of the day.

The event will see a wide range of local businesses and educators meet with more than 750 Year 10 students from five Forest secondary schools, with a view to inspiring the next stage of their career development.

A focus of the event will be on raising awareness of the apprenticeships available for young people locally.

One such example of a young person and local business mutually benefiting from an apprenticeship is 16 year-old Alfie Marshall, who has been taken on by HipsSocial Café in Lydney.

Hips co-owner Lucy Buckingham commented: “Alfie is our first apprentice, and is a very bright young man who knows his mind.

I pay him as an employee - not as an apprentice - because he does the job of an employee.

“It has been a real pleasure to take Alfie on as an apprentice. He is sent quite a lot of coursework by Gloucestershire College in Cinderford and Alfie does that here during his breaks so he doesn’t need to do it at home”.

Alfie said: “I think apprenticeships are a very good alternative for young people who just don’t want to sit at a desk.

I wanted to go out there, make coffee and serve people”.

Like Lucy at Hips, Deborah Flint and her husband, Neil, who own Cinderhill Farm at St Briavels also believe in developing apprentices.

Cinderhill are now producing 500,000 special sausage rolls a year with a staff of fifteen.

Two of those staff are young apprentices – Toby Barnes, aged 18, and Lawrie Price, aged 19.

“We need to inspire our local young people in the Forest”, added Deborah. “What FEP are doing to encourage apprenticeships is excellent.”

Toby said: “More jobs are needed for young people in the Forest - I have friends who are struggling to find jobs.

"I got really lucky to get this job-everyone treats you so well here”.

Cinderhill Farm’s team and their amazing sausage roll production will be featured shortly on a Channel 4 TV programme.

More than 20 companies and organisations have now joined as partners for the Inspiring the Forest event which is being visited by Forest MP and Transport Minister, Mark Harper on June 30.

Established as a community interest company in 2019, the FEP brings together local businesses with councils and the community, with the aim of growing the local economy through a range of initiatives.

For more Information about Inspiring the Forest, go to www.fep2050.co.uk/projects/inspiring-the-forest.