THEY may not be under the wing of Sir Alan Sugar but ambitious teenage apprentices involved in training schemes across Hounslow were the centre of attention last week.
The UK's first 'Apprenticeship Week' allowed Hounslow Council to highlight the 19 youngsters taking part in its Learn and Earn scheme.
Run with the Learning and Skills Council and training provider Carter and Carter, the teenagers are studying for qualifications while working for the council.
The initiative gives teenagers eager to discover more about working in local government a real job with a real salary while they study for a nationally recognised qualification.
Applicants are not chosen on academic achievement alone but on energy, enthusiasm, a willingness to learn and an interest in the area they choose to work in.
Sponsor of the project Cllr Gerald McGregor said: "A rewarding career begins with commitment - both from young people and employers."
The borough's MPs Ann and Alan Keen supported the Apprenticeship Week and called on more residents to get involved.
"Apprenticeships are an excellent way for young people to learn while working in their industry of choice," they said in a statement.
For more information on the scheme contact the LSC on 0800 0150 400.
Natasha O'Shea, 16, of Hounslow, is a former Lampton School student working in the council's Homeless Persons Unit.
"Every day is different - one day you could be helping a victim of domestic violence, the next you're helping someone who has lost their home in a fire," she said.
"You need to try not to get too emotionally involved because you're there to help people, so need to stay professional.
Cristian Brownlee, 18, of Brentford, is employed in the councilÕs Private Sector Housing team.
"I was interested in working in the public sector, and it's a good place to find out more about what's involved," he said.
I'd recommend it and tell people who are thinking about what to do after school to give it a try."
Patrick Martin, 17, of Brentford, heard about the scheme from a friend and applied online. "I work in Organisational Development in a friendly team of five that help run courses for staff across the council," he said. "It's a great opportunity to get into office work and get the experience companies want. At the same time IÕm studying for my NVQ in business administration and customer services."
Hayat Lazizi, 17, of Feltham, works in the Legal department with property. "I've had the chance to go to the High Court," she said. "The experience, and the qualification, will be great for me to go to university to study law."