THE Bishop of Durham practised what he has been preaching yesterday as he welcomed an apprentice to his cathedral.

The Right Reverend Justin Welby is patron of The Northern Echo’s Foundation for Jobs campaign, launched in association with Darlington Partnership and aimed at finding 1,000 apprenticeships and internships by January.

Now Durham Cathedral, which has a long history of supporting trades, has recruited Peter Bennett as an apprentice joiner.

Bishop Welby said: “Apprenticeships are a way of enabling employers to train and give hope to young people.

“In the current tough economic climate, it is important to create such opportunities as young people strive to move from formal education at school into the world of work.

“There are too few opportunities available and it can be equally difficult for potential employers to find the resources to create such posts.”

Mr Bennett, 18, from West Rainton, near Durham, has started a three-year apprenticeship.

He said: “I was really glad to get it. It was a great opportunity to take my trade further.”

Mr Bennett will help produce a variety of pieces for the 900-year-old cathedral, working alongside experienced joiners Tony Swallow and Terry Orton.

Mr Swallow began his working life as a cathedral apprentice and has remained there ever since.

Mr Bennett’s post is sponsored by the City of Durham Freemen.

John Heslop, who leads the Freemen, said: “The raison d’etre of the Freemen was always to encourage and foster trades, crafts and standards of workmanship.

“We have almost come full circle to where we started, which is wonderful. It is great we are able to team up with the cathedral, another ancient part of Durham.”

Durham County Council is also providing funding under its County Durham Apprenticeship Programme, run with the Coalfields Regeneration Trust, which aims to support 150 apprenticeships.

It has already secured 100, with 40 more being advertised.

Councillor Neil Foster, the council’s cabinet member for regeneration and economic development, said: “Young people need and deserve a helping hand and I am really pleased to see our apprenticeship scheme is a success.

“I’m sure it won’t be long until we reach our goal of creating 150 apprenticeships.”

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