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Minister of State for Skills and Enterprise meets British Gas Leicester Academy apprentices

Matthew Hancock MP, Minister of State for Skills and Enterprise, will be visiting the British Gas Academy in Leicester ahead of National Apprenticeship Week 2014 (3-7 March) on Friday (28 February).

The visit comes as new research* by think tank, Demos, and supported by British Gas, published yesterday (27 February) highlights that increasing the number of apprentices in England and bringing numbers in line with similar economies would boost Britain’s GDP by £4bn*.

In the East Midlands, the report highlighted

  • In the East Midlands, increasing apprenticeship numbers could boost the region’s GDP by £331 million
  • Over five apprenticeships per 1,000 were completed in the region between August 2012 and April 2013
  • Five times as many people in the East Midlands are studying for degrees as apprenticeships (Labour Force Survey, April – June 2013)
  • If the additional GDP of £331 million is to be secured by the East Midlands, it will be important that the proportion of people undertaking apprenticeships in the region aligns with the number of those studying towards degrees and the best performing English regions in terms of apprentice numbers

British Gas, which receives approximately 50 applications for every place as an apprentice, announced its first wave of recruitment for 2014 yesterday (27 February). The company will open applications for 48 positions, available nationwide, for its central heating installation apprenticeship scheme with three positions available in The Midlands. More positions are expected to be announced later in the year.

During his visit, the Minister will meet around 20 other apprentices currently enrolled on apprenticeship training programmes in smart metering and service and repair. Some will eventually go on to join British Gas' team of 10,000 engineers now covering homes across the UK.

The Minister will meet apprentice, Adam Varley, 25, from Leicester. Adam started an apprenticeship in service and repair with British Gas in 2011. Adam underwent major surgery to amputate his leg below his knee last summer. With ongoing support from British Gas, Adam returned to the Academy to complete his apprenticeship last November (See case study below).

Adam Varley, British Gas apprentice, said:

“British Gas has supported me throughout my career. I’ve really benefited from the training provided by the academy mentors. It’s been a great opportunity for me the apprenticeship is second to none.

“I’m currently visiting customers’ homes with a mentor around Leicester. I’m helping our customers every day with their energy needs. Knowing that you’ve made a difference to customers makes the job so worthwhile.”

Steve Goldthorpe, Head of the British Gas Academies, said:

“Leicester is the heart and soul of our business -- we employ around 3,800 people in the county. In the last five years, we’ve trained over 460 people here. I’m very proud to show the Minister at first hand how our award-winning academy can offer young people from Leicestershire and beyond hands-on training, a formal qualification and a firm footing on the career ladder.

“Adam is a shining example of how hard work and a desire to succeed can allow any young person to realise their potential.”

The British Gas Leicester Academy is one of six award-winning British Gas Academies located in the UK. Over the last five years, British Gas has trained around 2,500 engineering apprentices.

Last year, around 132 British Gas apprentices were trained at its Leicester Academy, as part of a wider £13 million investment by the company in training academies and apprentices.

For further information, visit or follow @britishgasjobs on Twitter.


Adam Varley, 25, British Gas Leicester Academy apprentice

British Gas apprentice, Adam Varley, 25, from Leicester never expected to be able to work in a hands-on job following a devastating football injury six years ago.

Adam had had an operation in the summer of 2013 to amputate his leg below his knee after he had started his apprenticeship.

After having to take time off for operations including one to insert a pin in his leg, Adam was made redundant by his former employer. In 2011, he heard about the British Gas apprenticeship scheme by his partner’s aunt who had worked for the company for many years.

Adam said: “I was very pleased to get an apprenticeship with British Gas. We did some team work exercises, including a trek through the countryside, and although I enjoyed it, I realised that my leg wasn’t right.”

Adam gained three A-levels from Wreake Valley Community College. Adam is working towards an Advanced Level Apprenticeship in Gas Utilisation, including a QCF Level 3 Diploma in Gas Utilisation and is hoping to become a Technical Maintenance Engineer at the end of this year.

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