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‘Apprenticeship enables me to get a qualification at the same time as learning valuable skills’

A HOLIDAY park owner and operator is marking the start of National Apprenticeship Week by urging employers to consider the benefits of bringing young talent into their organisation by taking on an apprentice.

Despite a difficult year for the travel and tourism industry, the demand on customer service teams has massively increased due to the number of people needing to cancel or move holiday bookings. 

In need of additional help Bridge Leisure decided to contact Milton Keynes College to explore the option of offering an apprenticeship in customer service. 

In December 18-year-old Amy Chambers, from Leighton Buzzard, joined Bridge Leisure at its Milton Keynes headquarters as a customer service apprentice to support the contact centre team in responding to social media messaging, live website chat and online customer reviews.

Director of marketing Rachel Mabbs said: “I think it is fair to say we were a bit apprehensive about bringing Amy into the team at a time when we are all working remotely. 

“The last thing we wanted to do was introduce an apprentice into the company and then not be able to provide the level of support they need but in reality it just meant moving what we would normally do face to face to online training and meetings instead.

“Despite those challenges, we have managed to integrate Amy into the team and provide her with all the support she needs online and she is already bringing fresh ideas to the team as well as bags of energy and enthusiasm. 

“The entire process from start to finish was made extremely easy by working with Milton Keynes College who do all the heavy lifting in terms of advertising the post, sifting applicants and providing guidance to us as we went along. 

“We are absolutely delighted we decided to press ahead with the apprenticeship and to have Amy as part of the Bridge Leisure team.”

Amy Chambers

After finishing sixth form last year, Amy saw the role at Bridge Leisure advertised on the Milton Keynes College Apprenticeship website. 

“I had previously studied travel and tourism and have always wanted to be part of the industry so when I saw this job advertised and read more about it, I thought it sounded like just the right role for me,” she said. 

“I have also worked part-time with customers which provided me with good experience for this role.”

Amy works full-time in her role with Bridge Leisure while working towards a Customer Service Specialist (Level 3) qualification which requires her to attend one day every six to eight weeks in college or via Zoom with her college tutors.

“As someone who just left school and was not going to university, I was looking for something full-time. The apprenticeship enables me to get a qualification at the same time as learning valuable skills in a full-time job to take with me in the future,” she said. 

“For me, the apprenticeship route gives me more support and valuable skills than going to university and studying for three or four years then having to find a job by myself without any work experience. 

“Doing this apprenticeship means that further down the line I can move up in the business or try out different roles within the travel industry with the skills I have been learning and developing.”

Milton Keynes College is also encouraging companies to consider employing apprentices. The college’s employer engagement manager Julie Jeffery said: “We have a pipeline of high calibre young people looking for apprenticeship opportunities. We are delighted to hear that Bridge Leisure, as a new employer partner, have had such a positive experience with their apprentice Amy.

“It is proof that, with the right attitude and support, bringing in new talent to your business is still possible even during a pandemic and we look forward to continuing to support Bridge Leisure with their apprenticeship programme in the future.”


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