Apprenticeships bring job opportunitiesBy David Millward
February 20, 2012
More and more young people are being given opportunities to learn new skills and gain practical experience by becoming apprentices.
The number of posts created in the last year almost doubled in Reading, putting the town among the top performers nationally in terms of apprenticeships.
National Apprenticeship Week put the spotlight on the scheme which has been made simpler for employers to get involved.
The latest Government figures show there was a 93 per cent increase in the number of apprenticeship places in the Reading East parliamentary constituency in 2010/11 compared with the previous year – up from 410 to 790.
And in Reading West the figure rose from 580 to 920, or 57 per cent over the same period.
Figures for the borough show a 91 per cent increase from 691 in 2009/10 to 1,320 in 2010/11 following the successful 100 in 100 campaign, sponsored by the Reading Post, which sought to create 100 new apprenticeship posts in 100 days.
The regeneration of Dee Park, in Tilehurst, has created opportunities for youngsters on the construction site through the Dee Park Partnership (DPP), consisting of Willmott Dixon, Catalyst Housing and Reading Borough Council.
Shannon Kelly, 18, is studying plumbing at Reading College and was struggling to find an apprenticeship until being accepted by Willmott Dixon.
Daniel Jerrom, 18, was given the chance to develop his love of carpentry and Wesley Petterson, 21, excelled at brick laying during a six-month construction course some years ago but was only given the opportunity to progress at Dee Park.
Andrew Sinclair, project director for DPP, said: “As a policy, we always try to employ local people on our construction projects and it is very satisfying for everyone that they can play a part in improving their own community.”
IT supplier Westcoast has just seen its first two sales apprentices qualify and have five others in the IT sales and IT developers departments.
The company employs more than 320 people at its Theale HQ and offers apprenticeships as a Microsoft-authorised distributor.
Ashleigh Lewendon and Joe Finn are not only Westcoast’s first Microsoft sales apprentices but also among the first through the Microsoft apprentice scheme nationally.
Westcoast chairman Joe Hemani said: “Our country needs our young people to get jobs and into work. It’s marvellous when one of our key vendors initiates such a programme and of course Westcoast were the first to get involved.”
Dominic Gill, apprenticeship programme manager at Microsoft, said: “A Microsoft apprenticeship is a superb opportunity for young people looking to embark on a career in IT sales.
“Not only will they be training at Microsoft IT Academy Remit, they will be employed from day one in one of Microsoft’s authorised distribution partners, Westcoast, developing their skills alongside experienced staff giving them a fantastic start to their careers.”
Westcoast is looking for new apprentices and interested 16- to 18-year-olds can send their CV to ITapprenticeship@remit.co.uk.
Southern and Scottish Energy (SSE) has announced it is going to create 15 new apprentices jobs in Berkshire and Oxfordshire.
They will be at the company’s distribution depot in Theale, its Vastern Road office and SSE contracting in the Reading area.
Catherine Bearder, Liberal Democrat MEP for South East England, visited the firm’s training centre in Thatcham last week. She said: “Apprenticeships give young people the experience and skills they need for life.”
The company will take on more apprentices in August but applications must be in by March 18. Visit www.sse-apprentices.co.uk