Jul 2014 / Company

Published – Western Mail

Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology, Ken Skates AM, will today (14 July) meet 10 young people who have secured apprenticeships with British Gas, during a celebration day event at the company’s contact centre in Cardiff.

The young people aged 18-24 and from the south east Wales area, have completed an eight-week collaborative programme and will enrol on a year-long NVQ level 2 course in customer service with British Gas later this month.

The programme was offered by British Gas in partnership with youth charity, The Prince’s Trust, Wales’ largest training provider, ACT Training, and the environmental charity, Global Action Plan (GAP).

One of those who recently completed the programme is Faisal Miah, 20, from Riverside in Cardiff. The father of one left school after his GCSEs to find employment. Faisal said: “I’ve worked in different jobs since leaving school but nothing has given me a career path. That’s why I applied for this. The quality of the training was so good. I’ve got new skills, met new people and I have a qualification. I feel more positive about my future now.”

Ken Skates AM, Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology, said: “I’m really looking forward to meeting the ten apprentices and congratulating them on securing a place in the programme. It’s great that British Gas are working in partnership with ACT Training, the Prince’s Trust and Global Action Plan to offer young people the chance to develop skills that should lead them on to a successful and rewarding career”.

“Apprenticeships offer young people an excellent opportunity to gain valuable skills, experience and qualifications while preparing them for the workplace. That’s why it’s such good news that there has been a dramatic increase in the number of people in Wales starting an apprenticeship in recent years – just over 28,000 in 2012/13, compared to 17,900 in 2011/12. And success rates for apprenticeships in Wales remain well above 80%.

Lynda Campbell, British Gas’ Regional Director for Wales, said: “We already employ around 1,300 people at our contact centre and we’re pleased to be creating opportunities for young people through this new apprenticeship programme. Our ten new apprentices have shown enthusiasm and commitment to the training so far, and we look forward to welcoming them into the customer service team based in Cardiff.”

ACT Training delivered part of the pre-employment training, helping the young people to develop employability skills which included three days at its outdoor activity centre, Ynys Hywel near Blackwood. The company is awarded grant funding by the Welsh Government* to deliver a range of training programmes.

Jonathan Davies MBE, Skills Ambassador for ACT Training, said: “I was an apprentice painter decorator before my rugby career took off and three years later completed a City and Guilds qualification.”

“It’s extremely exciting for one of the UK’s biggest employers to be offering our young people the chance to become skilled, qualified, employable individuals in partnership with supporting organisations including ACT Training. 

“This scheme is something to be celebrated as a model of good practice. We need to repeat it widely if we’re to continue helping our young people into employment nationwide.”

The Prince’s Trust collaborated with British Gas to deliver part of the training through its ‘Get into Customer Service’ programme, which gives disadvantaged young people the chance to gain hands-on skills and experience. Three in every four young people supported by The Prince’s Trust move into work, training or education.

A Prince’s Trust spokesperson said: “At The Prince’s Trust we recognise that young people need support and guidance to help them into work at a time when many people are out of employment. Programmes like the Get into Customer Service course give participants confidence and motivation to help them get into work at this tough time. We’re thrilled to be working with British Gas to create such opportunities.”

During the programme, the young people spent a week with GAP on Transform which allows trainees to obtain a BTEC qualification in Sustainability Skills.

Philippa Ward, Partner at Global Action Plan (GAP), said: “The BTEC in sustainability skills gives young people an extra boost – they get new skills that will help them get ahead. Bringing sustainability into every aspect of the workplace makes environmental, social and economic sense. We are proud to contribute to the programme, preparing these new apprentices to act as sustainability champions and embed sustainable practices into the British Gas customer service model”.

For further information on career opportunities with British Gas, visit www.britishgasjobs.co.uk or follow @BritishGasJobs on Twitter.