THIS week is National Apprenticeship Week which gives us an opportunity to highlight some of the programmes available across our borough.

The council’s flagship Future Apprentices for Business (FAB) scheme launched this time last year, helping firms and organisations to access grants to help them take on apprentices.

In the past 12 months, more than £250k has been allocated with dozens of young people starting employment.

We’re delighted that the scheme has had this level of success, and I would like to emphasise that it is still open for applications for businesses and organisations that have fewer than 250 employees and are based in our borough.

Grants of either £3k or £5k are available to help businesses develop their workforces and help young people learn vital skills in a workplace environment.

Last year Wigan Council was recognised on a national level as a Top 100 Apprenticeship Employer – the only local authority in the country to receive that status in 2023.

Apprentices add so much to our workforce and we will use this week to highlight why they are so important.

An undoubted highlight from this past week was attending the civic reception for the borough's two professional rugby league clubs.

It was a remarkable year for Leigh Leopards and Wigan Warriors with all of the three major trophies being held in our borough, a feat that will live long in the memory.

Representatives from both clubs were invited by the mayor of Wigan Borough, Councillor Kevin Anderson (who is a long-serving fan of Leigh RLFC), so that we could formally recognise all the successes of 2023 and wish them the best of luck for the new season.

As a rugby league heartland, the sport is intertwined with our heritage and its success both on and off the pitch has a huge impact on our communities.

We are certainly very proud of what both clubs achieved last year and we’re looking forward to supporting them throughout 2024 with the Super League season now around the corner.

The Leopards’ first home game of the season is against Huddersfield Giants at the LSV on Friday, February 16 with an 8pm kick-off.

For information about the FAB grants scheme, visit the council’s website and search for ‘Future Apprentices for Business’.