Aug 2014 / Company

Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, today met the first apprentices to be employed by British Gas at its contact centre in Cardiff, following the success of a new work placement programme targeted at young people not in education, employment or training (NEETs).

The 10 Customer Service apprentices, aged 18-24, are part of a group of young people (NEETs) from south east Wales who were chosen to join a new collaborative pre-employment training programme in May.

The eight week scheme 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) to help give young people access to vital work experience to help them find a job.

Part of the training was a four-week programme, Get into Customer Service, delivered by British Gas in partnership with the Prince’s Trust, as part of the Movement to Work programme.

Following the success of the work placement scheme, British Gas plans to roll out a total of 450 work experience placements, primarily in customer service, for young people (NEETs) in support of the Movement to Work programme across the country. The placements will include completing a BTEC in Sustainability.

The Movement to Work programme aspires to help young people aged 18-24 who are not in education, employment or training, to move closer to the world of work through the provision of high quality training and work experience opportunities. British Gas is one of a number of UK employers involved in the programme.

The recruits join more than 1,100 other apprentices currently in training with British Gas. Last year, British Gas recruited more than 900 young people under the age of 24 into different job roles across the country.

During the visit, the Deputy Prime Minister, who was joined by Jenny Willott MP for Cardiff Central, learnt about the apprentices’ journey. Part of the pre-employment training was delivered at the 1,300-strong contact centre, where British Gas recently announced the creation of 87 jobs including the 10 apprenticeships.

Aimee Hearn, 20, from Pontprennau in Cardiff, is now working as a customer service apprentice and hopes to qualify to a full-time role on completing an NVQ level 2 in customer service next year.

She said: “I finished my first year studying a degree in dentistry last summer but I just wasn’t enjoying it.

“I managed to find full-time work at a hairdressing salon but lost the job in January. I lost all my confidence and struggled to find work for months.

“My advisor at Job Centre Plus put my name forward for the training programme and I was delighted to get a place.

“I loved all the training; from meeting new people to learning new skills. Now I’m an apprentice, I have a career and it’s made me feel more positive and a lot happier about my future.”

Lynda Campbell, Regional Director for British Gas in Wales, said: “We’re pleased to have welcomed the Deputy Prime Minister to meet our talented apprentices who will play a vital part in our business’ future.

“As a major employer, we take pride in offering quality training and employment opportunities across the country, with 900 young people recruited to roles last year.

“By creating these 450 work experience placements in support of the Movement to Work programme, we are making a firm commitment to help struggling young people find the opportunities they need to realise their potential.”