Big breakfast for business

bb news_01_350pxAs part of National Apprenticeship Week (7th-11th February 2011), East Berkshire College held a special big breakfast event for local businesses on Thursday (10th February) at its Langley Campus.

Attended by over 40 visitors, the 'Big Breakfast for Business' event provided local organisations with the chance to find out more about the College's new apprenticeship programmes and the benefits of taking on an apprentice. A wide range of companies from across the region attended the event including Mars, Royal Berkshire Ramada Plaza, Clean, Mitie and Babcocks Ltd.

The event included a number of short presentations by key speakers such as Fiona Mactaggart, MP for Slough, as well as a discussion forum and tour of the College's extensive facilities.

During her visit, Fiona met a class of apprentices in the College's Construction Department to talk with them about their experiences. She was even given a lesson in bricklaying and shown the art of carpentry and joinery by students.

"Companies which employ apprentices find that they can build a loyal skilled workforce which contributes to their business success," explains Fiona. "And the apprentices I spoke to enjoy this very practical form of on the job training. Improving skills is essential if we are to compete and apprenticeships are the most important way of doing that. Full Marks to East Berkshire College for promoting these excellent apprenticeship programmes."

In addition to the breakfast event, the College also invited a number of key figures from local councils and industry to become an apprentice. Martin Mahoney, 14-19 Consultant for the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, was one individual who took up the challenge.

As an apprentice, Martin joined a class of students in the College's hair and beauty training salons to try his hand at doing woven highlights (known as foiling).

"A number of my colleagues did laugh when I told them I was going to be a hairdressing apprentice for an afternoon. It has, however, given me a much better insight into apprenticeships. Part of my work involves strengthening links between schools and colleges, so I felt it was important to understand how and what apprentices learn.

"I was particularly interested in talking to students about how and why they came to choose this vocational career path. It was great to see how dedicated and enthusiastic they are about what they do."

Meanwhile Jo Wright, Head of Local Business at Kinnarps and President of Slough Chamber of Commerce, took up the offer of becoming a motor vehicle apprentice: "I believe it is very important to grow the skills of our young people in the area, so I was keen to support National Apprenticeship Week. Going back to College for first-hand experience was a great way to do that."

bb news_02_350pxHenry Clarke (19, from Wokingham), who is now in the final year of his motor vehicle apprenticeship at the College, believes an apprenticeship makes you more employable.

"Apprenticeships help you get experience while learning," says Henry. "It is hard at first because you start on a low wage, but it pays off in the long term as companies want skilled staff. I want to work my way up to manager level and this is the first step."

East Berkshire College trains hundreds of apprentices every year, in various subjects from engineering to hairdressing, and even helps businesses recruit apprentices.

As well as the more traditional trade-based apprenticeships, the College now offers a range of new apprenticeships in areas such as IT, Business Administration, Accounting, Customer Service and Public Services.

Local businesses interested in taking on an apprentice, please contact East Berkshire College on 01753 443855.

For further information on East Berkshire College and its extensive range of over 700 courses including apprenticeships call 0845 373 2500.

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