A 23-year-old woman from Cardiff says she feels “like a different person” after securing a job as a Customer Service Adviser at British Gas.
Aimee Hearn from Pontprennau went to university to study dental technology. After a year she decided that she didn’t want to pursue a career in that field and so got a job at a local hairdresser’s but a lack of available hours meant that at the age of 21, Aimee was unemployed.
“For months I would visit my local job centre, but struggled to find anything. Applying for jobs and being turned down for interviews made life really hard and it knocked my confidence. When you’re unemployed, people look down on you, but all you need is for someone to give you a chance.
However, after six months she said her luck changed: “One day, my adviser at the job centre suggested that I apply for an apprenticeship with British Gas and I was really pleased when I got accepted!”
In 2014 Aimee joined a team of 11 young people from south Wales on an eight-week course, delivered by British Gas, in partnership with local training provider ACT Limited, the Prince’s Trust and Global Action Plan.
“I enjoyed getting to know the other people on the course and we became good friends. The training was a good mix of learning and hands on practical work. We listened to agents taking customer calls and did some work in the classroom.”
Aimee went on to complete the apprenticeship the following summer and now has a permanent, full-time Customer Service Adviser role with British Gas.
“I really enjoy speaking to different customers every day and feel confident helping them with their queries. It’s great being part of a team too.
“I feel like a completely different person now. I’m a lot more outgoing and I’m able to enjoy my life again. For the first time, I have a regular wage, which means I can do the things I like. I even manage to save some money.
When asked if she would recommend an apprenticeship to others she said: ““I’ve worked hard to get where I am. My family are really proud of me and I think it’s great that companies like British Gas are willing to help young people like me. I would encourage anyone to apply for an apprenticeship.”
Sam Brown, Head of Customer Delivery at the British Gas’ contact centre in Cardiff said:
“Our apprenticeship programme gives us the opportunity to offer young people across south Wales the chance to develop their customer service skills and improve their career prospects while also helping us as a company to build a pipeline of future talent into the business and develop a highly skilled and enthusiastic workforce.
“We are very proud of the training and opportunities we have on offer here in Cardiff and in the coming year, we hope that more many more young people will consider doing an apprenticeship with us. It’s a great way for us to bring in fresh, new, local talent.”
Minister for Skills and Science, Julie James, said: “In Wales, the number of employers offering apprenticeships is on the rise and I’m encouraged to see organisations like British Gas committing to up-skilling their workforce.
“Apprenticeships represent one of the most practical and effective ways that businesses can access quality training and raise their skills levels. Apprenticeships enable employees to develop higher level technical and professional skills to train on the job and develop the job specific skills employers need to keep up with industry changes and demand.”
The Apprenticeship Programme in Wales is funded by the Welsh Government with support from the European Social Fund.
For more information about recruiting an apprentice, please visit Skills Gateway for Business at www.businesswales.gov.wales/skillsgateway or call 03000 6 03000. Also find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/apprenticeshipscymru and on Twitter @apprenticewales