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Aspire partners with West Berkshire Training Consortium to provide logistics skills for young people

Aspire, the Chartered Institute of Logistics & Transport careers foundation, has forged a new partnership with the West Berkshire Training Consortium (WBTC) to bring foundational logistics skills to young people. An initial donation of £2,000 in April funded ten forklift truck training places, and Aspire has now committed to a second round of funding over the summer.

The Newbury-based Consortium is a charity that helps school and college leavers to progress into Apprenticeships through coaching and training. It offers qualifications in areas such as English, Maths, Health & Safety and First Aid that are quick to complete and provide young people with confidence to apply for work placements and Apprenticeships with local employers. By adding the reach truck training to its portfolio, WBTC has been able to broaden its range of practical workplace skills and open up more opportunities in the local job market.

Matt Garvey, Managing Director of WBTC said: "We have had fantastic feedback from all those who have taken the licence so far. The practical skills sit well with our other areas of training and our trainer, Stuart has great rapport with the students. When the young people come to us, they are often lacking in self-belief and need support to prepare them for taking their first steps in the workplace. Logistics is a flourishing sector and we are seeing a growth in local employment opportunities, so the partnership with Aspire has enabled us to give young people skills that are relevant and sought after – so much so that, this year, one in seven of our learners are now Aspire-funded! Through our work, I am hoping to encourage more local employers to take on young people directly instead of always relying on agencies."

Commenting on the partnership with WBTC, Aspire’s Chairman Tim Slater FCILT said: "When Matt came to speak to our Steering Group, we instantly recognised the complementary fit with Aspire and could see his passion for providing these young people with a broader range of longer term career options. What is great is that WBTC has converted the funding into instant results. We have already been to meet the graduates and seen the difference that this has made."

The training takes place in a disused warehouse under the watchful eye of trainer Stuart. Groups of three students at a time are given a brief introduction in the classroom before getting straight into the forklift to learn the basic manoeuvres and navigate their way around obstacles and chicanes.

Sydney Sova, Curtis Rawlings and Chris Cox are all recent WBTC forklift graduates:
Having completed a work placement at the National Animal Welfare Trust on a farm, Sydney Sova is now working at Vets for Pets, where she has developed a longer term plan to train as a veterinary nurse via an Apprenticeship. With a long stretch of studying ahead of her, Syd is planning to take on additional work to boost her income – and the forklift training gives her more options. "I was nervous at first, but then really enjoyed it. I’d be interested in counterbalance training too".

Chris Cox has completed a four month work placement at Greenham Traders in the warehouse, where he has put his training to good use. Following excellent feedback from his employers, he has now been taken on in a permanent role. "I really feel part of a team here. Apart from a couple of shaky moments, I feel like I’m getting better on the forklift all the time and learning valuable skills".

Curtis Rawlings completed his training in just four days and took to it like a ‘duck to water’. He said: "it’s great to be able to get going straight away. I was a bit apprehensive, but soon realised that I was just born to drive a forklift!" He is currently working part time at Gist doing pick and pack, but is hoping to increase his hours and get some work on the reach truck soon.

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