New partnership to strengthen skills in the region

A new partnership, announced today (31 May), is to strengthen skills in engineering and professional services in the region.

ATG Training, which supports more than 400 apprentices each year, has announced that it will join Activate Learning.

ATG Training was formed in 1967 to provide young people with work and training opportunities, in partnership with engineering and manufacturing businesses. Today it continues to provide apprenticeships in engineering and business services and is also the UK’s leading provider of professional cycle mechanic training. It has bases in Aylesbury, Stafford and London.ATG Training 1

Jon Adams, Chief Executive Officer of ATG Training, will now also join the executive team at Activate Learning. He said: “We are delighted to announce that we are now part of Activate Learning. This move will enable ATG Training to broaden its offer to learners and employers and help us to reach more businesses than ever before.”

ATG’s specialisms in engineering will complement Activate Learning’s technology faculty, which includes the new Oxfordshire Centre for Technology, Innovation and Skills opening this September. This £8m facility, supported by the Local Enterprise Partnership, will provide a new home for STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) skills development in the county.

Sally Dicketts, Group Chief Executive of Activate Learning, said: “ATG Training will be a valuable addition to our group. The company shares our ambition to improve the lives of local people through professional training, while meeting the skills needs of employers.

“ATG Training’s apprenticeship programmes will further expand the scope of our existing apprenticeship delivery via Activate Enterprise, which is already the largest provider in the Thames Valley. Together we can best identify skills needs in the region and develop the training that enables individuals and businesses to grow.”

Activate Learning comprises three further education colleges and apprenticeship and consultancy company, Activate Enterprise. The group is the lead sponsor for four schools – UTC Reading, UTC Oxfordshire, The Bicester School and Bicester Technology Studio, which opens in September.

Apprentice grows his career with award-winning garden designers

A former green keeper is taking his career in a new direction as an apprentice with an award-winning landscape and garden design business.

Apprentice Jackson Gardner is the third apprentice to join the team at J&S Scapes, which specialises in landscaping and design projects for private clients.Apprentice

The Whitchurch-based company, which has won awards at Chelsea, Grand Designs Live and the British Association of Landscape Industries (BALI), designs and delivers schemes ranging from small town gardens to large country estates.

Jackson, the newest member of the team, is now learning on the job under the guidance of Managing Director, Jeremy Pugh, while studying one day a week at Berkshire College of Agriculture on an apprenticeship delivered by Activate Enterprise.

The 20-year-old said: “I had been working as a green keeper at a golf course since leaving school and was keen to progress, but there just didn’t seem to be the opportunities. I had an interest in horticulture and design, so when I saw this apprenticeship I was keen to go for it.

“While an apprenticeship is an entry level job, you know that the work you are putting in to gain relevant qualifications will pay off in the longer term. I knew that this was the time to invest in my career.

“I am really enjoying the work at J&S Scapes. I get real satisfaction from seeing a space transformed and it is inspiring to work with the team and learn from them. Meanwhile I am developing an understanding of the theory behind the practical aspects of the job at college. I am looking forward to building my career with the company, under the guidance of Jeremy.”

Jackson is completing a Level 3 Apprenticeship in Horticulture with a particular focus on landscaping.

Jeremy said: “Jackson has only been with us for a short while but is bringing a real enthusiasm and has a great attitude. We have found that apprenticeships can be a good route when it comes to recruiting new talent, particularly for those like Jackson who have spent time deciding what they want to do as a future career and need the opportunities to get started.

“The Level 3 apprenticeship develops supervisory as well as technical skills, which means it helps to build the capacity of our business as we plan for the future. Teamwork is an essential part of any business, and apprenticeships add a new dynamic by combining fresh ideas and approaches with existing skills and expertise.”

Centre of automotive excellence becomes new home of industry training

A trailblazing scheme to train the next generation of historic vehicle restorers is to move to the UK’s first business park dedicated to the historic motoring industry.BH photo for web

Activate Enterprise and Banbury and Bicester College became the first providers to launch an apprenticeship and full-time course in historic vehicle restoration in September 2014.

BH photo for webThis summer the programmes will move from the college’s Bicester campus to Bicester Heritage, a centre dedicated to the restoration, storage and enjoyment of vintage and classic cars, motorcycles and aeroplanes.

It means that apprentices and full-time students will learn at the RAF’s former Engine Test House, located within the UK’s best preserved World War 2 bomber training station, surrounded by employers and other specialists from the industry.

Pablo Lloyd, Chief Executive of Activate Enterprise, said: “The historic vehicle apprenticeship was launched to develop the talent required to safeguard the future of this important and high value sector.

“The opportunity to locate our training programmes within the UK’s specialist centre for the classic vehicle industry is extremely exciting.

“Our aim is to offer apprentices and students a direct line of sight to employment. This move will offer them an unrivalled learning experience, surrounded by industry enthusiasts and expertise, and the chance to build vital links with employers.”

Daniel Geoghegan, Managing Director of Bicester Heritage, added: “Bicester Heritage is focused on the future of our past and, as such, skills transfer is a major pillar of our strategy. We are also delighted to see the Engine Test House, built in 1926, return to life so appropriately.”

The historic vehicle restoration apprenticeship was launched by the Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs (FBHVC), following research which identified a future skills gap in the industry.

The UK market for vehicle renovation in the UK is estimated at £4.3bn per annum and employs around 22,000 people. But with nearly half of these aged 45 and over, businesses are expected to need up to 150 apprentices every year for the next five years to protect the future of the industry.

Commenting on this announcement, FBHVC Chairman, David Whale said, “The instant success of the course at Banbury and Bicester College meant that it very quickly outgrew the existing premises at the Bicester campus.

“The fact that ideal facilities, in absolutely the most appropriate environment, existed so close at Bicester Heritage was too good an opportunity to miss. It means that the students will develop their knowledge and skills surrounded by the very craftsmen they aspire to succeed.”