Employers flock to South Bristol jobs and apprenticeship fair
Teenagers talk about benefits of becoming an apprentice at Bristol South MP's jobs fair
Pictured: Emma Jarman, vice principal, City of Bristol College, with Karin Smyth, MP and Lee Probert, principal and chief executive, City of Bristol College
SOME of Bristol's biggest employers met hundreds of the city's young jobseekers as part of an apprenticeship fair at the South Bristol Skills Academy in Hengrove during National Apprenticeship Week.
Firms attending the South Bristol Jobs & Apprenticeship Fair, organised by Bristol South MP Karin Smyth, included Airbus, Hargreaves Lansdown, Bristol Airport, the Bristol Port Company and University Hospitals Bristol. They were joined by other key south Bristol employers such as Robbins Timber, Computershare and Babcock.
Last year, Bristol South came out bottom of the table for the percentage of 18-year-olds going on to university in England – with just one in six school leavers taking up places at university.
Karin said: "Work is being done in Bristol South to address the lack of students going on to university but it's important to recognise that university is not for everyone. There are other options available and apprenticeships offer a great opportunity to many young people to earn while they learn. One of my priorities as an MP is working to ensure decent employment opportunities for people in Bristol South and quality apprenticeships are an important part of this."
Manning many of the stalls were apprentices, who talked to young jobseekers about the benefits of undertaking an apprenticeship.
"I'd recommend it to anyone," said Connor Murphy, a first-year apprentice with Bristol Port Company. "I've been doing it for 5 months and I'm loving it. It's a two year apprenticeship and you're almost guaranteed a job at the end of it.
"I always struggled at school so getting the hands on experience was the boost I needed really. I didn't want to focus on getting good grades to then be stuck in an office, I wanted to do a lot of physical stuff which is what I'm doing. It's ideal for me."
Amanda Rogers, 20, started an apprenticeship with Hargreaves Lansdown and is now working towards a degree alongside her role in cyber security with the financial company. She said: "I applied for apprenticeships in IT via the government website and was lucky enough to get this one. It's really good, you learn and get a wage which is really beneficial. I'll get a degree and there will be no debt. Hargreaves Lansdown are really supportive – if you need time off to do the work, they'll allow you that. I don't see myself leaving Hargreaves Lansdown because there's so many opportunities for progression."
Bristol South MP Karin Smyth and City of Bristol College Principal and Chief Executive Lee Probert spent the afternoon meeting local families at the event – learning more about the support they need to be able to navigate the post-16 skills, training and job opportunities.
Speaking at the event on Thursday March 8, Karin said: "It's been a brilliant day – a great chance for me to meet employers, young people and parents to talk about apprenticeships. I learnt more about the challenges people are facing and how we might address these – something I'll be taking back to Westminster with me.
"It's clear that some of the biggest advocates of apprenticeships are apprentices themselves and I met some inspirational young people finding their way in the world of work – from apprentice engineers at Babcock to apprentice nurses with the local NHS, there are so many different opportunities available."
Lee Probert added: "We were thrilled to be able to work with Karin on this event again – it was brilliant to see so many young people coming along to find out more about apprenticeship opportunities. City of Bristol College has apprentices itself, working in business administration, customer service and marketing functions of the college. It's something that works well for both us as an organisation and the individuals who are getting on the job training.
"We also support many of our city’s employers in the recruitment of apprentices for their business as well as the delivery and assessment of relevant apprenticeship frameworks. I hope that this event has inspired more people to take part in apprenticeship schemes."
National and local organisations which support people through apprenticeships were also on hand to help offer advice, including the National Careers Service, 3aaa, N-Gaged and South Bristol organisation Professional Apprenticeships.
The fair was one of many events taking place across Bristol for National Apprenticeship Week 2018. It followed on from a similarly successful event at the Skills Academy in 2017, which saw lots of young people go on to secure job and apprenticeship opportunities.
Karin regularly speaks about the need for quality apprenticeships in parliament and works with organisations in Bristol South to help promote apprenticeships as a stepping stone into a career.
To find out more about apprenticeships, please visit