Business Services

Skills for the workforce web press

A group of training providers, led by East Berkshire College, has secured a £1.4m contract from the European Social Fund (ESF) to help small to medium sized businesses across Berkshire to upskill their employees.

Berkshire businesses with less than 250 employees will be able to access the fully-funded training for employees aged over 19 (and resident in the UK/EU). Training will be delivered on a flexible, modular basis and will be specifically tailored to the needs of the individual business and its employees.

The Skills for the Workforce project is being delivered in partnership with Bracknell & Wokingham College, Newbury College, New Directions, Reading College and West Berkshire Training Consortium.

Charlie Roberts, ESF Project Manager at East Berkshire College, explains: "With around 40,000 SMEs in Berkshire, we want to support as many businesses as possible in their growth plans as the country moves out of recession. The focus of the Skills for the Workforce project is to deliver free workplace training to develop highly skilled workforces.

"The training programmes are fully funded and flexible in order to be most effective for businesses. Whether a company is looking to develop senior managers or employees with no formal qualifications, we can deliver appropriate training at a time and place to suit. East Berkshire College and all our training partners in this project have years of experience of working in a wide range of sectors, and can ensure businesses receive high-quality training to meet their needs."

The Skills for the Workforce project, which runs until July 2015, is designed to boost the skills of the local workforce and help local businesses to be more productive and competitive. Employers can access training for their employees in a range of areas including management and team leading, accountancy, administration, IT and specific industry-related skills to meet the requirements of their business. Employees can gain accredited units to enhance their knowledge with the opportunity to go on and complete a full, industry-recognised qualification at a reduced rate.

For information on the project and how your business can access free training, contact Charlie Roberts on 07795 052057, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit www.eastberks.ac.uk/skillsfortheworkforce.

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One of the country's most innovative training and development projects, Slough Aspire, has now opened on the Slough Trading Estate. Slough Aspire is designed to be the first port of call for training and development needs for businesses and the local community.

Developed by SEGRO, Aspire has been delivered in partnership with Mars, Ipsen, Lonza, Polycom, O2, BlackBerry, UCB, Federation of Small Businesses, East Berkshire College, Slough Borough Council and Learning to Work.

The project aims to help the local community develop the confidence and skills to take advantage of a rapidly changing employment market and ensure that employers have access to a talented and productive local workforce.

The centre is open to companies, schools and local residents and looks to play a vital role in enhancing and strengthening links between the community and local businesses. Slough Aspire will offer a range of training programmes, events and career advice services that will help employers address their training and recruitment needs by connecting them with the local community and training providers.

Gareth Osborn, SEGRO's Business Unit Director for the Thames Valley said: "We are delighted to have opened the new Slough Aspire centre on the Slough Trading Estate. With the help and support of our customers and local partners, this business-led community project offers companies of all sizes an exciting opportunity to develop a skilled and talented local workforce.

"Slough Aspire underpins our exciting plans for the Trading Estate as well as helping to maintain Slough's position as a world class location for business. SEGRO has played an important role in the local community for nearly a century, providing a quarter of all jobs in the borough, and Slough Aspire will provide a fantastic opportunity to train local residents so they can compete more effectively for job opportunities."

Guests at the launch were joined by a local youth film group run by Resource Productions, who is already utilising the Aspire centre. The group is currently developing a promotional film, filming five events over the coming months to deliver the project by the end of the year. The filming at Slough Aspire was the first part of the assignment enabling them to learn new skills including lighting, photography and editing.

Student Leigh Reid (16, from Slough), who is currently studying a BTEC Media course at Windsor College, was one of the young people filming the event.

"Filming the launch of the new Slough Aspire Centre is a great learning opportunity. It has given me the chance to put the skills I'm learning at college into practice and gain real work experience. As well as filming some of the activities at the centre, we will also be interviewing the people and companies involved."

Saira Majid, winner of the Princess Badiya Mentor of the Year Award, also encouraged use of the centre through the entrepreneur network run through Aspire for You, in addition to the Mosaic programme which provides mentoring for disadvantaged young people.

Fiona Jones, Slough Aspire Manager, explains: "Slough Aspire is dedicated to developing the skills of local people to meet the needs of businesses and ensure the future prosperity of the town. Business involvement is vital to the success of the project and there are many ways businesses and individuals can get involved; from mentoring programmes and guest speaking to hosting an event or delivering industry specific taster sessions. The new centre will be a great resource for the whole community and I'm looking forward to working with all the Slough Aspire partners to put skills development and community business engagement at the top of everyone's agenda."

Slough Aspire delivers three core programmes:

- Aspire for Schools, led by Learning to Work which raises the aspirations of young people by bringing the world of work alive

- Aspire for You, led by Slough Borough Council and designed to break down the barriers between residents and businesses in Slough

- Aspire for Business, led by East Berkshire College, which will deliver a range of training, mentoring and business development activities that aim to help Slough businesses maintain their competitiveness

Since the launch of the Aspire programmes last year, more than 3,600 young people, their parents and teachers have engaged with local businesses at careers fairs and other pre-employment events. The programme has supported 21 local residents to improve their interview skills through workshops held by local businesses; delivered a range of short courses in team leading and management, held a series of Slough specific careers training workshops to local front line careers and employment advisors whilst also helping the creation of seven new businesses through the Inspire Business Network.

To find out how you can get involved in Slough Aspire, please contact Fiona Jones, Slough Aspire Manager via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Sales managers from the UK’s leading paint brand Dulux, which is part of AkzoNobel, have been developing their painting and decorating skills through a tailored training course at East Berkshire College.


The College was able to put together an intensive five-day training programme for the Dulux employees to provide them with the practical skills and knowledge they need to deliver an enhanced level of advice to retail customers and consumers.

Delivered at Langley College, the short course saw 14 retail sales territory managers and regional development managers learn about wall preparation, painting techniques, wallpapering, tools and materials. As well as developing their practical skills, the course also enabled the employees to gain a City and Guilds Level 1 qualification in painting and decorating.

AkzoNobel’s Dulux brand has over 1,200 colours and products stocked in all major DIY retailers across the UK. This latest training initiative helps the company raise its service and product promotion to another level.

Tim Doherty, Regional Development Manager at AkzoNobel, explains: “As a company, we have extensive internal training on our products, but not the overall decorating job. We were impressed with the training the College arranged for our retail customer Homebase. We therefore decided to enrol our sales team on the course to enable them to extend their skills, speak with confidence on how our products fit into the decorating process and gain a recognised qualification. In fact, we will be including the City and Guilds logo on staff uniforms to assure customers of the quality of our service.”

“East Berkshire College’s flexible approach has made the process of setting up the programme very easy for us. They were able to tailor training to meet our specific requirements, timescales and products. I have received excellent feedback on both the quality of the course and the trainers. As well as enhancing the knowledge of our staff, the training was also a good team building exercise – a benefit that shouldn’t be underestimated.”  

Business Development Manager, Gary Cooper, was one of the individuals who welcomed the chance to go back to College and gain an accredited qualification.

“I really enjoyed the course,” said Gary. “It was really well structured with demonstrations, practical tasks and a useful recap at the end of each day. We know our products, but it is great to know first-hand how to apply them in real situations, like what to use when and in what order. I can now pass this knowledge onto store staff and customers to help further promote our products.”

Steve Ashfield, Sales Development Manager at Dulux said: “We have a very robust internal training programme at Dulux, but are committed to cementing our position as the leading paint brand. We therefore took the decision to enrol our sales teams on the City and Guilds course so they could gain a nationally recognised and credible endorsement for their expertise.

“Doing the course has enabled our staff to develop a standardised set of skills to a professional level, and ensure they are equipped with the right knowledge to advise our stockists of the key benefits our products will provide the end customers.”

East Berkshire College provides tailor-made training solutions to help businesses remain competitive, profitable and productive. With years of experience working with SMEs and multi-nationals, the College can deliver cost-effective training programmes at a time and place to suit any organisation.

For more information, please contact East Berkshire College’s Business Services team 01753 443855 or click here
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East Berkshire College and The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead’s Grow our Own service hosted a special Hospitality Skills Forum exclusively for hospitality and catering businesses in the Windsor and Maidenhead area on Wednesday (17th April 2013).


Held in the auspicious surroundings of the Guildhall in Windsor, the forum provided local businesses with the chance to find out about apprenticeships, pre-employment training, a complimentary job-matching service and the funding available to employers in this thriving sector.

Starting with a traditional afternoon tea, the event included a number of short presentations by key speakers including George Robertson, Operations Manager from WPC Inns. Guests were also able to find out about the College’s new state-of-the-art Hospitality & Catering Academy in Langley, which will deliver full-time and part-time courses, including apprenticeships, in a range of areas from professional cookery to front of house.  

One of the guest speakers at the event was George Robertson, Operations Manager for WPC Inns. With seven venues across Windsor, the successful pub and restaurant chain has already recruited seven apprentices through East Berkshire College’s new Hospitality & Catering Academy.

George explains: “We took on our first apprentice three months ago at the Royal Stag and we now have seven apprentices throughout the business. The apprentices are already having a very positive impact on the team in terms of their enthusiasm and energy. It is a tough world for businesses at the moment, but apprenticeships are a great way to reduce recruitment costs, improve staff retention and develop home-grown talent.”

Talking at the event Geoff Salinas, Area Head Chef for the Francesco’s restaurant and café chain, said: “We are particularly interested in further developing the skills of our current staff and finding fresh new talent for our restaurants, so we decided to come along to the event. Having a local training facility for our industry will make a real difference to local businesses like ours.”        

East Berkshire College and The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead’s Grow our Own team are working in partnership to support recruitment and training needs of local businesses in this thriving sector.

Johanna Watts, Grow our Own Manager, says: “The Royal Borough has an expansive range of businesses in Hospitality, including two of the top 20 tourist attractions in the U.K. We are keen to work with employers to provide the skills to enable local people to seize work opportunities in a thriving sector.”

The new Hospitality & Catering Academy is part of East Berkshire College’s £16m makeover of its Langley College and will provide state-of-the-art facilities to meet the training needs of the local community. Due for completion in August, the new academy will accommodate professional training kitchens, a working restaurant and conference suite.

For further information on East Berkshire College and its new hospitality & catering courses, call 0845 373 2500 or click here.
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As part of their commitment to staff development, leading companies such as Equinix, Lonza and eGain Communications are investing in training through East Berkshire College and Slough Aspire to provide employees with the chance to further develop their management skills.

Employees from these three leading Slough-based companies successfully completed a one-day workshop in advanced project management at the IQ Marketing suite on the Bath Road and were recently presented with their certificates. The workshop is part of a comprehensive range of short courses in team leading and management being delivered by the College and Slough Aspire to enable businesses to access high quality training programmes on their doorstep.

James McCarthy, Project Manager at Equinix, explains: "As part of its expansion plans, Equinix is investing in key people within the business. Management training was identified as an area for my development and this course was ideal due to its content and convenient location. It was great for generating ideas and exploring different solutions for dealing with a variety of challenges."

Natasha Phelan, Project Co-ordinator at eGain Communications, agrees: "Everyone was on a different level in project management, so it was a great opportunity to exchange ideas. The course was structured around the roles and experience of each of us in the group, so the course could be tailored to our needs. This meant it was a great introduction for beginners but also a useful refresher for those who were more experienced."

Colin Lucas, Learning Development Manager at Lonza Biologics, adds: "Having representatives from a wide range of other companies on the course was an additional benefit because it gave us the chance to share ideas."

A recent survey from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) has highlighted a leadership skills gap in management in the UK. The 2012 Leadership and Talent Development Survey found that 72% of organisations have a deficit in their leadership and management skills.

Helping organisations address this gap, East Berkshire College as part of the Slough Aspire project is offering cost-effective training courses that can be tailored to meet the needs of the individual business and its employees. The trainers are all industry experienced and are familiar with the latest practices and techniques, so delegates are assured of receiving up-to-date high quality training. What's more, training can be delivered all year round at a time (day or night depending on numbers) and place to suit business needs.

The short courses and workshops include: Managing Change, Leadership Styles, Motivating the Team, New to Team Leading and Advanced Project Management.

For more information on management training and the next available workshop dates email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. This
e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or call 01753 443855.

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Apprenticeships were top of the menu at a special Business Breakfast for local employers on Thursday (7 March) at East Berkshire College. Celebrating the benefits of employing apprentices, the event was the first in a series of activities to mark National Apprenticeship Week (11-15 March 2013).

A wide range of companies from across the region attended the event including Panasonic, CH&Co, Sir Christopher Wren Hotel, Thames Hospice Care, Kier and British Airways. The 'Business Breakfast' 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.

The event featured a number of short presentations by key speakers such as Zeena Cala from the National Apprenticeship Service, Sarah-Jane Nicholls from the Sir Christopher Wren Hotel and Dawn Amos from Panasonic. Guests were also able to take part in a discussion forum, take a tour of the College's extensive facilities and hear directly from current apprentices about their experiences.

One of the guest speakers at the event was Sarah-Jane Nicholls, HR Manager at Sir Christopher Wren Hotel & Spa. As a renowned four-star hotel, Sir Christopher Wren recognises the benefit of developing new talent and currently has two apprentices through the College.

"We wanted to find new talent for the kitchen, which would grow with us and really understand the culture of the hotel. East Berkshire College has made the whole process of setting up an apprenticeship programme very easy for us, from advising on funding to recruitment. The College was even able to screen CVs for us and send through candidates that matched our criteria, which saved us valuable time."

Guests were also provided with a tour of the College's excellent facilities including the engineering workshop, which features a state-of-the-art CNC Milling machine, and talk to current apprentices.

In addition to the breakfast event, the College also invited Fiona Mactaggart MP to take up the challenge of becoming an apprentice. During her visit, Fiona joined a class of apprentices in the College's extensive motor vehicle and engineering department to talk with them about their experiences. She was even shown how to use the latest autologic diagnostic equipment by apprentices Oliver Rickstraw (21) and Danny Saunders (19).

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

East Berkshire College now offers a wide range of new apprenticeships in areas including Science, IT, Engineering, Business & Administration, Accounting and Hospitality & Catering. New higher apprenticeships (Level 4) are also available, offering a more affordable and convenient alternative to university.

Businesses interested in finding out more about apprenticeships or would like to request a copy of our 'Employer's Guide to Apprenticeships' can contact East Berkshire College on 01753 443855 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

For further information on East Berkshire College and its extensive range of over 800 courses including apprenticeships call 0845 373 2500 or click here.

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With the help of East Berkshire College, Complete Care in Windsor has introduced its first apprenticeship scheme to offer its staff the chance to develop their skills and gain a nationally recognised qualification.

As part of its commitment to supporting staff development and further promoting good working practice, the professional home care company has six apprentices undertaking a level three qualification in Health & Social Care.

Though traditionally the caring industry is not a sector automatically associated with apprenticeships, more and more businesses like Complete Care are recognising the initiative as a cost-effective way to develop their workforce and recruit fresh new talent.

Beverley Buckner, Managing Director of Complete Care, explains: "It is important to have qualified staff to deliver the highest level of care to our service users. Apprenticeships are good for the individual, our business and the industry as a whole, as they help to raise standards and provide clients with added reassurance. This kind of training not only motivates the apprentice, but also inspires other members of the team."

"East Berkshire College made the process of setting up an apprenticeship scheme very straight forward, helping us with all the paperwork and accessing relevant funding. I have been very impressed with the College's flexible approach to our business. For example, they work around our shift patterns to deliver training at our offices rather than at the College, which is a real benefit for us and more convenient for our apprentices."

Established since 2002, Complete Care provides a full range of professional home care services to service users across Windsor, Maidenhead and the surrounding areas.

Amy Morrison, a homecare assistant, is one of the individuals studying for the Advanced Apprenticeship in Health & Social Care (NVQ Level 3).

"I always thought apprenticeships were for 16 year olds and I didn't realise they were available for the caring industry. Being an apprentice is great because you can learn while you earn. All the units of the course are relevant to my job and I am learning so much about industry regulations and legislation. Completing my level three qualification will give me more opportunities and enable me to work towards a possible promotion."

East Berkshire College trains hundreds of apprentices every year, in subjects from engineering to hairdressing, and 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 Business Administration, Accounting, Customer Service, Science, IT and Hospitality & Catering. An increasing range of new higher apprenticeships (Level 4) are also available.

Local businesses interested in taking on an apprentice, can contact East Berkshire College's Business Services team on 01753 443855.

For further information on East Berkshire College and its extensive range of over 800 courses including apprenticeships, click here or call 0845 373 2500.

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Small and medium sized businesses looking to take on a young apprentice have been given a boost as the National Apprenticeship Service has announced moves to help even more employers recruit an apprentice and increase opportunities for young people.

The government has confirmed an extension of the Apprenticeship Grant for Employers of 16-24 year olds (AGE 16-24) until March 2014. The £1,500 grant is available to help eligible businesses with less than 1,000 employees take on between one and ten apprentices aged 16-24.

Neil Peters, Commercial Director at East Berkshire College, welcomes the news: "With a growing range of apprenticeship courses and funding available, there's never been a better time for businesses to take on an apprentice. Many employers are finding apprenticeships are a great cost-effective way to recruit fresh talent, address future skills gaps, increase staff retention and improve bottom line.

"At East Berkshire College, we support the employer and the apprentice. We have more than 35 years of experience in delivering high quality training and our free apprentice matching service ensures businesses find the right individual and vice versa."

Marketing solutions company, Surefoot Communications in Burnham is one of a number of local businesses to employ their first apprentice and take advantage of the government grant.

Karl Austen, Director of Surefoot Communications, explains: "We recruited our first apprentice six months ago as we wanted someone who could grow with the company. I had heard a lot about apprenticeships in the news, but East Berkshire College was able to explain the process and the funding available to us. Being able to access this additional grant made our decision to hire an apprentice much easier and we are pleased we did. As an employer, we have found an apprentice offers us greater flexibility and their energy combined with their willingness to learn is a definite benefit."

Apprenticeships are also providing young people with a great opportunity to kick-start their careers. Catriona McGill is one of four individuals benefiting from a two-year higher apprenticeship scheme at Oracle Corporation in Reading:

"I'm so pleased I applied for the apprenticeship as it really is the best of both worlds. Oracle and the College work together to ensure what I am learning is relevant to what I am doing at work. This means when I complete my apprenticeship, I'll not only have gained an HND qualification, but I'll also have the experience to go with it."

East Berkshire College trains hundreds of apprentices every year, in subjects from engineering to catering, and 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 Business Administration, Accounting, Customer Service, IT, Health & Social Care and Hospitality & Catering. An increasing range of new higher apprenticeships (Level 4) are also available.

Local businesses interested in taking on an apprentice, can contact East Berkshire College's Business Services team on 01753 443855.

For individuals interested in an apprenticeship call 0845 373 2500 or click here.

 

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In a bid to grow new talent for its award-winning restaurant, Sir Christopher Wren Hotel and Spa in Windsor has recruited its first apprentice with the help of East Berkshire College's new Hospitality & Catering Academy.

Under the guidance of the Senior Chef de Partie, new apprentice Louis Graham (17, from Reading) is working as part of the hotel's nine-strong kitchen team that create a mouth-watering array of fine dishes and delicacies for guests.

Louis Graham, who is undertaking an apprenticeship in professional cookery, said: "After finishing school, I decided I wanted to work rather than study full-time. I've always loved cooking and studied GCSE cookery, so when I saw this job advertised on the National Apprenticeship Service website I applied straight away.

"This is a dream come true to work in such a prestigious restaurant. I thought I'd be just peeling potatoes at first, but I have worked here a month now and I've learnt so much already. I'm working towards a qualification, earning money and gaining lots of experience. I definitely learn better by doing things every day on the job and I am finding out about the pressures of working in a busy professional kitchen. Working in a place like this is an amazing start to my career. The world is my oyster!"

As a renowned four-star hotel, Sir Christopher Wren recognises the benefit of investing in recruiting and developing new talent.

Sarah-Jane Nicholls, HR Manager at Sir Christopher Wren Hotel, explains: "We wanted to find new talent for the kitchen, which would grow with us and really understand the culture of the hotel. This is the first time we have supported an apprentice and it is a great opportunity for an enthusiastic young person, like Louis, to work their way up to commis chef. Louis has settled into the team really well and has really boosted team morale.

"As a company, it is fantastic to have access to a local training facility and play a part in developing fresh talent for the industry. East Berkshire College has made the whole process of setting up an apprenticeship programme very easy for us, from advising on funding to recruitment. The College was even able to screen CVs for us and send through candidates that matched our criteria, which saved us valuable time. We would certainly look to take on more apprentices in the kitchen, and possibly other areas, in the future."

As a thriving industry both locally and nationally, the hospitality and catering sector offers a variety of career paths in hotels, restaurants, bars and conference centres. The College's new courses reflect this, covering a wide range of aspects including food safety, professional cookery, food and beverage service, housekeeping and front of house operations.

As well as the more traditional trade-based apprenticeships, the College now offers a range of new apprenticeships in areas such as Business Administration, Accounting, Customer Service and Hospitality & Catering. An increasing range of new higher apprenticeships (Level 4) are also available, offering a more affordable and convenient alternative to university.

For further information on East Berkshire College and its range of full-time and part-time hospitality and catering courses, call 0845 373 2500 or click here.

Businesses interested in finding out more about apprenticeships and workplace training can contact East Berkshire College on 01753 443855 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

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