Deer sparkles as new jewellery apprentice

A Norton teenager has beaten off stiff competition to win a gem of an apprenticeship with up and coming jewellery company Rock ‘n Rose – thanks to the North East Apprenticeship Company (NEAC).

Megan Deer, 16, started her apprenticeship in customer service this week after being chosen from a list of 36 candidates.

The online jewellers – which supplies celebrities and X Factor stars with bespoke fashion accessories and has been featured in glossy magazines – was started in 2007 by sisters Jess and Emily Lathan from Stockton.

All the items sold are handmade and handcrafted by the two-strong team and the business has grown at such a rate they decided they needed an apprentice to train up as part of their team.

Now the sought after retailer, which boasts celebrity clients such as Pixie Lott, is set to expand further into specialised bridal accessories after moving its operation to new premises at the Durham Tees Valley Business Centre on Orde Wingate Way last August.

Jess said: “We had grown the business rapidly working from home and realised that when we moved we’d need an extra pair of hands to meet demand.

“We approached the North East Apprenticeship Company via Business Link to find someone who we could bring on board to learn a trade while helping us with customer demand.

“We found the process of working with the NEAC great. They sifted through dozens of applications before sending us a short list from which we interviewed two.

“We chose Megan because she is meticulous, enthusiastic and hopes to pursue a career in the jewellery business. We hope she will stay with the business.

“One of the things I worried about was delegating to a new member of staff and hoping they were going meet the standards we set as a company. But Megan is a perfectionist; I think she will work out great for us.”

Megan added: “I decided not to go to college as I think I wasn’t interested in studying all day long every week.

“So, I applied for the apprenticeship online – it was really easy to do. Then I got the interview and I’m really thrilled they picked me as I really wanted the apprenticeship.

“I love it because I’m very much a ‘hands on’ person. I am already learning new people skills and hope to maybe one day study jewellery design and retailing.”

Almost 50 North East companies have already signed up with NEAC since it was launched and 450 potential apprentices have also registered for placements.

The company has a regional brief to expand apprenticeship positions, tackling the skills gap to create more than 1000 new apprentice jobs in the next two years, particularly among small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

Managing director Paul Champion said: “We are seeing a lot of interest from young entrepreneurs like Jess and Emily who want to take on young people to learn a trade and pass on specialist skills.

“The North East Apprenticeship Company can not only recruit young people for placements but support employers across a range of sectors with advice and administrative services which make it quick, easy and beneficial to use apprentices.”

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