A DRIVE to encourage youngsters to take an apprenticeship after they leave school was high on the agenda of a two-day careers fair.

This year’s Oxford City Learning (OCL) careers fest, which finished yesterday, held at Mini’s Cowley Plant, aimed to inspire youngsters with different career choices.

More than 50 employers, education organisations and training providers encouraged young people to think about new career paths, including the range of apprenticeships on offer within the county.

Apprentices from Mini were among those on hand to share their experiences of working at the Cowley factory Emma Cross, from Abingdon, who is in her third year as a Mini apprentice, said it was an important career route for people to consider. The 18-year-old added: “I started my apprenticeship straight from GCSE so it is good to chat to people who are the same age as me when I started and give them an insight and the inside info, so they know it is not scary.”

Technical apprentices at the plant attend its own training school while business and IT apprentices go to Abingdon and Witney College in conjunction with Oxford Brookes University.

Head of apprentice and associate training at BMW Group UK, Simon Farrall, said it was important to recruit a wide range of apprentices.

He said: “It’s fantastic to have welcomed so many students from schools across Oxfordshire.

“I hope those who attended this year’s event have been inspired by what they’ve seen and enjoyed the chance to find out more about our apprenticeships, which range from human resources, business and finance to logistics, maintenance and engineering. It was also great to see a lot of interest from many young women in science, technology, engineering and maths-related organisations as it’s really important we encourage more females to work in these vital sectors.”

Pupils interested in taking an apprenticeship on leaving school were able to gain advice from AIM Apprenticeships.

The company works with prospective apprentices to help them create a covering letter and CV before guiding them through the application process.

Daisy Taylor from AIM said: “ We have got a good response from people here – 250 people signed up on our website on Tuesday morning alone.”