Partnership to create up to 100 apprenticeships in 12 months with guaranteed jobs

A ground-breaking North East partnership will boost job prospects for young people through a new education and employment pathway.

Seaham-based Great Annual Savings Group (GAS) has joined forces with East Durham College (EDC) in an agreement to deliver bespoke traineeships, apprenticeships and a fast-track to guaranteed jobs.

GAS announced dramatic growth plans in July, creating 300 jobs within its operations across the UK.  Since then, the Group has worked closely with EDC to ensure a pathway for young people to access a portion of those jobs through apprenticeships in a variety of specialisms.

With the agreement signed and sealed, the apprenticeships will begin enrolment in March 2021.

GAS Chief Executive Brad Groves was born and raised in County Durham and returned to the region following a globe-spanning career in 2012 with a passion for creating North East opportunities.  It is a vision shared by EDC Principal and Chief Executive, Suzanne Duncan.

Mr Groves has praised Mrs Duncan and the College for their fast-acting approach to delivering further opportunities as the region’s job market shrinks in the face of the global pandemic.

He said: “I’m pleased we have found a like-minded partner in EDC who can deliver this vision together with us.

“There are not many businesses investing in young people in this manner anywhere in the country.  Rising unemployment and decreasing entry-level jobs mean that they are facing more challenges than ever.  I want them to see that people can still have an exciting career, as I have.

“This partnership will see recruits undertake a six-week traineeship at EDC’s Peterlee Campus, before moving into GAS’ purpose-built Performance and Development Hub where they will complete the 15-month fast-track programme.  Potential earnings almost double upon completion of the apprenticeship, which is well above market average for an apprentice.  The grand prize at the end is a guaranteed job with the Group upon completion.

“In such a fast-moving company, the opportunities for further development beyond this are endless.”

“The benefits of working with EDC are significant for GAS.  Their facilities are first-class and their breadth of academic and vocational courses covers everything from horticulture to business management, which is reflective of the wide range of apprenticeships on offer. There will be roles available in sales, business development, marketing, IT, HR and more.  The scheme truly does offer a unique pathway of opportunities for the young people.”

Suzanne Duncan, Principal and Chief Executive of EDC, said: “This partnership is an extremely important and exciting development for the college, the region and especially the students and communities we serve.

“It’s clear there will be major challenges faced in the local jobs market, particularly by young people, as the impact of COVID bites. The apprenticeships available through the GAS Performance and Development Hub offer genuine hope and a fantastic, potentially life changing, opportunity to scores of local people to join a hugely successful local employer.

“We are absolutely delighted to be working with Brad and his team; creating a range of opportunities for young people that will have real impact on both them and the regional economy.”

GAS won a regional National Apprenticeship Award for “best newcomer apprenticeship provider of the year (SME)” in 2017 and represented the North East at the national awards in London.

The Group’s previous apprentices have gone on to earn promotions and further personal development qualifications with the business since completing their courses.

GAS will begin taking expressions of interest over the next few weeks on its website, with the apprenticeship recruitment process beginning in December 2020.

This is just the latest good-news story to come from GAS, with more exciting growth projects to be announced in the coming months.

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Paul JohnsonGroup Financial Director

Paul Johnson is very much a home-grown talent.

He joined Great Annual Savings Group in its infancy, fresh from a youth career as a professional footballer with Hartlepool United.  He quickly established a reputation within the business and aced all required accountancy qualifications in the space of four years to become the Group’s Management Accountant.

Several successful projects later, Paul was promoted to Head of Finance.  When the former FD left GAS, he took on the mantle of the business’ most senior finance professional; boasting a string of incredible achievements all under the age of 30.


“I have witnessed phenomenal growth at the Group over the many years I’ve worked here and I’m looking forward to guiding the Group into an exciting new chapter.”

Interesting fact:

Paul made his professional debut for Hartlepool United against Bournemouth in the Football League.  Some say Danny Ings still resides in his pocket to this day.