British Gas, the country’s largest energy provider, has launched two new apprenticeship schemes, helping 21 young people from Leicester onto the career ladder.
The new recruits, mostly aged 16-24, started training at two British Gas contact centres, serving residential and business customers, in Leicester last month.
The majority were not in Education, Employment or Training (NEETs) previously, with many entering full-time employment for the first time.
The launch of the new pilot programmes coincides with the release of the UK Government’s NEETs figures published today (20 November).
Jon Ashworth MP welcomed the new job opportunities after meeting with a number of engineering apprentices at British Gas’ Ofsted rated Training Academy in Leicester last year. Almost all of the customer service apprentices are from his constituency area.
Jon Ashworth MP said: “There are still too many young people unemployed in Leicester and in my Constituency of Leicester South. The British Gas apprenticeship schemes are a great way for people, especially young people, to acquire the necessary skills and experience required to get jobs.”
Ten young people have enrolled on an advanced apprenticeship in customer service at the company’s residential services contact centre at Aylestone Road.
The 12-month training programme is being delivered in partnership with Action for Employment (A4e). On completion, the apprentices will be awarded an NVQ Level 2 qualification in customer service.
Before starting the apprenticeship, the young recruits completed a pre-employment training programme, which was delivered in support of the Movement to Work* programme.
British Gas is one of a number of UK employers involved in the programme. The company has recently committed to creating 450 pre-employment training opportunities for young people by the end of 2015.
Gavin Murray, Head of Customer Services for British Gas at Aylestone Road, said: “We currently have around 1,200 apprentices in training across Britain and a long track record of helping hundreds of apprentices qualify as skilled engineers at our local Training Academy.
“Customer service is at the heart of our business and this is why we’re passionate about creating opportunities for young people to train, learn, earn and grow with British Gas.
“We’re impressed by the enthusiasm, commitment and passion of the apprentices so far and I hope this leads many of them towards considering long-term careers with us.”
The remaining 11 young people are training towards an apprenticeship in sales at British Gas’ business services contact centre at Grove Park.
The 12-month training programme is being delivered in partnership with Learn Direct. The apprentices will work towards an NVQ Level 2 qualification in sales.
For further information on career opportunities with British Gas, visit britishgasjobs.co.uk or follow @BritishGasJobson Twitter.
Case study: Jake Crawford, British Gas customer service apprentice
Jake Crawford, 20, from Saffron Lane in Leicester is a customer service apprentice with British Gas. Jake passed eight GCSEs at Guthlaxton College and studied A-levels in English and Drama at Wing Production House.
He found some short-term employment in sales but struggled to find a long-term job. He also suffered an injury to his foot, which meant he could not work for almost two years.
Jake was unemployed for nine months before starting the apprenticeship last month. He said: “Getting the place on the apprenticeship with British Gas is the best thing that’s happened to me. I was bullied at school and when I left I had no confidence at all and I struggled to find a job.
“When I applied for the scheme I’d been unemployed for nine months. I’d sit at home and apply for eight or nine jobs a day. A lot of people around me put me down but my dad believed in me and kept encouraging me to apply.
“I was at the Job Centre one day when they told me about the apprenticeship scheme. I applied and A4E helped me prepare for the assessment days at British Gas, including interview techniques.
“I’m just into the fifth week of the apprenticeship and it’s absolutely fantastic. We’re learning about customer service and get to listen to calls in the contact centre. I really enjoy learning on the job, it’s hands-on and I enjoy working with different people.
“I already feel like I have so much more confidence in my future. I want to work hard and complete my training then aim high to get a full time position and hopefully move up the career ladder with British Gas.”
Notes to editors
* About Movement to Work:
Britain’s leading employers have come together to form Movement to Work, which aims to support unemployed young people into jobs, further education or training.
Among the founding employers are Accenture, BAE Systems, Barclays, BT, Centrica, the Civil Service, Diageo, GSK, HSBC, Kingfisher, M&S, National Grid, Tesco, Unilever, and WPP.
Their aspiration is for Movement to Work to offer vocational training and work experience opportunities to thousands of unemployed young people, helping many of them into work, education or training. For more details on the movement, go to http://www.movementtowork.com/
About British Gas
British Gas is the UK's leading energy supplier, and serves around 11 million homes in Britain –nearly half the country's homes – as well as providing energy to around half a million UK businesses. British Gas provides value for money, dedicated customer service, innovative energy solutions and the highest quality Home Services expertise in the country. Find out more at www.britishgas.co.uk
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