Oakland International, a responsible family business working in partnership with Heart of Worcestershire College is delighted with the Apprenticeship Scheme that was introduced six months ago. Talent Acquisition Specialist at Oakland International, Mrs Laura Watkins, explained: “As a significant local employer Oakland International is passionate about providing opportunities for unemployed, inexperienced people in our local community. “Having partnered with the Heart of Worcestershire College we went about selecting individual candidates to work in Oakland’s various departments throughout the business whilst they undertook and completed a Business and Administration NVQ qualification. All apprentices settled in well and volunteered for more responsibilities than we had ever imagined they would and as a result we increased their remuneration benefit. It was fantastic to see them grasp the opportunity with both hands.” A multi temperature supply chain specialist, Oakland International supplies UK and Irish retail, discount, convenience and wholesale markets from their UK and Ireland based facilities. This year the company has been recognised as a Top 100 Local Employer and ranked in the recent London Stock Exchange report (March 2016) as in the Top 1000 Companies to Inspire Britain. The apprentices, as well as undertaking their full time roles at Oakland International, took part in additional external Excel training courses, as well as contributing to an Oakland Programme Apprenticeships Workshop with local young people, which offers an insight into what apprenticeships involve. All Oakland employees are offered training when joining the company which encompasses Microsoft packages, Customer Service skills, MHE certification, First Aid, Health and Safety, as well as apprenticeships for job seekers looking for career progression, they also offer access to their in-house Management Development Programme for those interested in leadership roles. Added Mrs Watkins: “Involving apprenticeships within any business has the opportunity of bringing in fresh ideas and allows us to train a person from scratch, as opposed to them having to relearn systems and processes, and significantly the Apprenticeship Programme fits many of Oakland’s social conscience core values. “By taking part in the Apprenticeship Scheme and offering an accredited qualification together with on the job training, we are continuing our investment in our employees and supporting their ongoing professional development.” A new initiative, Oakland International is now looking to repeat the experience next year and is considering apprenticeships in other business areas where they could also work towards gaining new qualifications of varying levels.