I AM proud to be an ex-apprentice.

It is a badge I wear with honour, and business is increasingly looking to apprentices as their way ahead in terms of staff development.

That’s why I believe the government’s annual Apprenticeship Week this week is so very important for people of all ages as well as for the benefits of employers and the wider economy.

Skills for Life is this week’s national theme, and I couldn’t be more supportive of that focus.

My apprenticeship journey started at age 17 when I joined the South London Observer as a trainee reporter-that indentureship was for three years.

I had a great mentor in my first editor, Ian MacKenzie, whose son Kelvin became editor of the Sun and I later worked with him on the Daily Mirror.

Ian gave me a chance after I had written to nearly a hundred newspapers all over the UK wanting a trainee reporter’s job.

He taught me key basics—like using the dictionary when unsure of a spelling and reading your story three times for inaccuracies or typos.

Over the years, I worked as a reporter and news editor on national newspapers before editing newspapers in this region for twenty years.

This county has some great colleges providing good apprenticeship opportunities like South Gloucestershire and Stroud College and Gloucestershire College where I am privileged to be an honorary vice president.

I have often presented apprenticeship awards at companies here like Borg Warner at Stonehouse. It’s brilliant to see the pride of parents at their children getting recognition.

But apprenticeships are not just about young people’s opportunities.

They offer the skills for life that I got as a trainee journalist but also to those older people who we call “returnships”.

It’s never too late to learn, and change course in your career journey.

At 77 years old, I look back over my career and conclude that those life skills I learned as an apprentice reporter at 17 have stood me in good stead.

But I am still wanting to learn.