Two things dominated proceedings for the Switch on to Swindon (SOTS) team last week – jobs and women.

Starting with jobs, it was National Apprenticeship Week with the centrepiece being the annual Jobfest held at Steam. Record numbers of young people went along to meet a whole host of businesses who were on hand to discuss the opportunities and options available to get into work and apprenticeships.

There was also a lot of advice and support available on things like how to write a CV, put together LinkedIn profiles and prepare for interviews. It is a competitive market and understanding how to stand out and make the most of opportunities is increasingly important.

A lot of SOTS ambassadors had stands at Jobfest and I am really encouraged by what I sense is a real change in attitude to apprenticeships from both employers and those seeking employment.

Clearly there is an imperative for many businesses given the apprenticeship levy but I believe there is a growing appreciation of just what a positive impact apprentices can have on your business.

There are any number of case studies available, and I pointed out the recent films produced in a recent column, that show the business benefits.

From a young person’s point of view an apprenticeship is an excellent option. The chance to earn while you learn and achieve both a qualification along with invaluable experience in the workplace is a compelling proposition.

Congratulations to all involved in organising Jobfest and we all need to keep up the hard work to support our young people into the workplace.

For more information and advice I’d recommend a visit to the Higher Futures website -

International Women’s Day seems more relevant than ever given all of the events of the last few months.

We are fortunate to have a wonderful array of women in the ambassador network and spoke to a few of them for a short film published last Thursday - The stories of those we spoke to enlightened and inspired in different ways.

There are, however, some things that came up from everybody like having confidence, being creative, having determination and listening to others but knowing when to trust your own instincts and abilities to then act decisively.

All good traits for anybody who wants to be successful in business and work.

The SOTS team also attended the Wiltshire Women in Business conference which featured a great range of key speakers, workshops and networking opportunities.

Some of the topics covered included women on boards; encouraging diversity in the strategic decision making process; resilience for women in business; and how to create a business vision and stick to it.

Conferences are great for creating a melting pot of ideas and discussion.

The important thing is to carry the momentum out of the day and turn those connections into successful networks of support and guidance which I’m sure will be the case.

I’ll finish with a line from one of our ambassadors in the film – “It’s about choice, there is nothing you can’t do if you put your mind to it but you have to choose to do something and then stick at it.”

Well, that’s just good life advice!