College business link is proving just the job

Apprentice Josh Wright with Alison Oakes

Apprentice Josh Wright with Alison Oakes

First published in News Herald Series: Photograph of the Author by

AN OXFORDSHIRE college is linking up with local businesses to offer young people apprenticeships in trades from vehicle design to horticulture.

Abingdon & Witney College is working with 19 Oxfordshire businesses to promote 20 apprenticeship vacancies with firms across the county, giving young people the chance to learn their trade on the job with college back-up.

In the past year more than 100 people have started apprenticeships through the college.

They include Josh Wright, 21, who is partway through a business administration apprenticeship with Scion Technical Services, Didcot.

He said: “The apprenticeship has been brilliant in terms of learning.

“I’m still learning every day, but it has been a brilliant move in terms of a career path. I now have a permanent job with the company and am enjoying every minute of it.”

His employer, Alison Oakes, added: “The apprenticeship programme has worked well for us as an organisation.

“Our apprentice has been a great asset to us and we have been able to offer him a permanent position on his own merit.”

There are seven business administration, five customer service, three engineering and two IT apprenticeships up for grabs, and one each in horticulture, motor vehicles and design. They are in Witney, Chipping Norton, Abingdon, Wantage, Oxford, Didcot, Banbury, Kingston Bagpuize and Watlington.

Eighteen-year-old Chloe James managed to secure an accountancy apprenticeship through the scheme, at Rapier Employment in Abingdon.

She said: “I really enjoy my apprenticeship as there are two completely different atmospheres: being at college with learners then switching to being part of a team with responsibilities.

“An apprenticeship is a great way to learn as it’s more hands on. I would recommend one to anybody.”

The college’s head of apprenticeships, Jacqui Canton, said: “As we continue to build the range of apprenticeships we offer we are delighted to be working with such a variety of different firms across Oxfordshire to promote these opportunities for people to combine work with learning.”

Apprenticeships are open to people of all ages and applications should be made through apprenticeships.org.uk One of the most popular apprenticeship providers in the county is BMW, which had a record number of applicants this year for 70 positions, including 35 at the Mini Plant in Cowley.

Spokesman Rebecca Baxter said there were hundreds of applications, and applicants were going through interview and assessment ready to take up posts in September.

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