Corporate gas and electricity supplier Opus Energy has been employing apprentices from Northampton College since 2012, offering students the chance to work in one of the most progressive companies in the UK.
The Moulton Park based firm has won plaudits for its commitment to staff development and has seen 44 apprentices come through its doors, with many working their way into senior management roles.
Melanie Berman said: “We are very keen on working with the local community and offering apprenticeships is a good way of offering opportunities for job roles to local youngsters.
“They bring lots of creativity, some fresh ideas, new thinking and lots of enthusiasm. If they have got the right attitude I think that goes a long way to making the decision to take somebody on.
“As long as they have got that sort of proactivity about them and want to learn, we can bring the rest to the party and work with them on that.”
Opus Energy have used the skills and knowledge of apprentices to quickly grow the company, becoming a force to be reckoned with in a competitive industry.
Mel added: “We are very lucky to have retained many of our previous apprentices. We like to ‘grow our own’ so we have them from the beginning and then the talent stays with us right through to senior management in some cases.
“We are refreshing the apprenticeship scheme now and looking at ways to grow it some more so this is a very much a part of our future.
“We work very closely with Northampton College and we are pleased with the relationship that we have.
“We meet regularly to discuss how the scheme is going and also the college come to us and have one on ones with the apprentices themselves to see how they're getting on.”
Lauren who studied level 3 Business said, ‘I had no idea about the alternative to school and A Levels and found that the style of learning at college suited me much better. In fact, I have got a place at a better university thanks to my studies at Northampton College.’
Lauren wanted to go to university but the first year of her A Levels in a school sixth form did not go well and she found herself with poor grades in her AS exams. Lauren was faced with the choice of re-taking the first year and staying on at school but she had doubts about whether this was the right option for her.
Lauren and her family hadn’t heard much about further education options at school and didn’t know that there was another route she could take to achieve her ambition to get into university. She came along to an advice session at Northampton College and found out about the BTEC option which meant she could study a Level 3 programme for two years that would be recognised for higher education. The difference was that the BTEC Business programme involved much more practical learning and would enable her to gain technical and professional skills rather than the theoretical knowledge of A Levels.
Lauren lives in Market Harborough and couldn’t drive when she started at college so she had an early start to catch two buses to get to the campus in the mornings. This worked out well as the course was not taught on every day of the week and she was able to engage in independent study on days when she wasn’t time-tabled in lessons. The journey become a lot easier when she learnt to drive and bought her first car!
Lauren also needed to improve her English GCSE grade for a university place on her chosen course and she was kept busy on her main programme organising events and completing other assignments as part of her coursework. At the end of her two years at college, Lauren achieve Distinction grades (D*DD) for her BTEC in Business and successfully achieved a grade B for her English GCSE. These fantastic results meant she was accepted by prestigious Russell Group University of Exeter to follow a degree in Business and Management. Since joining the university, Lauren has been awarded a £1,000 Aspirational Scholarship to help fund her studies.