Berkshire: Apprenticeships spell hope for job seekers

In support of National Apprenticeship Week, from February 8 to 14, 2021, Berkshire Opportunities is showcasing the opportunities available in the region, with over 250 apprenticeship roles available across Berkshire. These include apprenticeships as varied as business and project management, science and engineering, social care, marketing, child care, nursing and teaching.

Berkshire-OppDespite the challenges of coronavirus, some of the region’s best-known employers are still recruiting apprentices, including BMW, Fujitsu, Thames Water, Stantec and GSK but there are also apprenticeship roles available within Berkshire’s vibrant small business community. The top essential skills employers are looking for in applicants are basic math, communication skills, enthusiasm and customer service.

Dominique Unsworth MBE, board director, Thames Valley Berkshire LEP, who was awarded an MBE in 2020 for services to apprenticeships and is the CEO of Resource Productions, a small Berkshire-based creative business said: “Apprenticeships are especially known for the great foundations they give young people to build lifelong careers. There’s no doubt that coronavirus has hit young people especially hard; they are naturally worried about their future. Unfortunately, for some this has really bruised their confidence in the jobs market. As a result some are giving up before they’ve even started. Our message to all job seekers, but especially young people is that there are some great apprenticeship opportunities out there and real support to help you successfully apply.”

Millie Bastin who started her level 3 business administration apprenticeship at Bracknell-based logistics company UCS in September 2020 and was awarded Apprentice of the Month, January 2021 by Activate Apprenticeships said: “Doing an apprenticeship has put me a step ahead in my career because I am gaining more skills in the workplace and once I finish my apprenticeship, I feel that it will be something to go on my CV which will help me to work my way up. I like that I’m gaining lots of experience and knowledge but I’m also developing lots of behaviours and skills. I’ve also made lots of new friends! Doing an apprenticeship has also boosted my productivity because I’m not just studying, I’m also working on the job.”

Unsworth added: “It is fantastic to see young people excelling in apprenticeships even in the face of the challenges of coronavirus. It’s important to remember, however, that apprenticeships aren’t just for school and college leavers; adults of any age can also take advantage of the scheme. This can provide a great route into a new career for those who have been made redundant as a result of the pandemic, which we know has hit those working in retail and hospitality really hard. With their existing skills they make ideal candidates for apprenticeships in new, more secure industries.”

National Apprenticeship Week will look a little different this year, as with almost all events, it moves online. In Berkshire, there are online initiatives running throughout the week, to help residents explore apprenticeship opportunities and employers learn more about the benefits of supporting apprenticeships within their organisations.

Berkshire Apprenticeship Week events this year include Activate Apprenticeships’ a virtual careers and apprenticeship fair running throughout the week and Berkshire Healthcare’s online careers event on Tuesday, February 9, where you can explore a diverse range of NHS roles, from nursing to IT and business administration.

Information, advice and support on apprenticeships are available at Berkshireopportunities.co.uk, a free online service that helps local job seekers, students and residents make informed career decisions.