My apprenticeship story

My apprenticeship story

Ever wondered what it’s like to be an Apprentice?

What the benefits of doing an Apprenticeship over a full time college course are?

How your career can progress?

There’s no better way to answer these questions than to hear the stories of people that are on or have completed apprenticeships themselves. Here are just a handful of our success stories … 

Andy

Andy McDermott, apprentice at A Parry

Andy made his mark on his employer, A Parry after designing new packaging for the company’s products and for their range of ironmongery and threaded bar.

He was also responsible for creating artwork for the company’s product labels, information guides and delivery vehicle livery as well as promotional literature for their stockists and distributors.

The new website www.perrytrade.co.uk showcases the company’s diverse product range, whilst offering many new features and improved performance.

“Seeing my designs go live was a bit strange, but also rewarding as it was the first time I’ve done something like this,” said Andy who is studying a Level 3 art and design (graphic design) Apprenticeship at Matthew Boulton College.  “I’ve realised how much hard work is involved in design and branding.

“I haven’t worked in this environment before, so everything has been a learning process. 

“Everything I work on has a lot of creative potential. 

“It’s great.”

Jessica

Apprentice maintenance technician, Jessica O Sullivan, at BMW Group Plant Hams Hall

Jessica has no regrets about choosing an Apprenticeship over university.  She much prefers her role as an apprentice maintenance technician with BMW Group Plant Hams Hall where she spends four days on the shopfloor and one day studying engineering at James Watt College.

She is into the second year of her Apprenticeship programme where she has started three-month placements in different parts of the plant such as the mainline area and in controls.

“As an apprentice maintenance technician, my role involves making sure a production line is always operating effectively,” she explained.  “Experiencing multiple areas of the plant is great because you get a really good understanding of how everyone contributes and you get to know more people.  Eventually, I’ll choose or be assigned a particular area to work in.  This will allow me to specialise in one role and develop my career.”

“I always tell people I meet that sixth form isn’t your only option.  Or if you have completed A Levels or a practical qualification then you can still take up an Apprenticeship and go on to university afterwards.” 

Luke

Apprentice barber, Luke Newell

Luke is an apprentice at The Barber House in Birmingham’s Colmore Row while gaining a Level 2 barbering qualification at James Watt College.

“I see my Apprenticeship as an opportunity to be trained from scratch and then work my way up,” he said.  “I’d always loved getting my hair cut and I find the creative side of this industry appealing.  The social side of the job is great too.

“I’m always learning and improving,” continued the former warehouse worker.  “Spending one day a week at James Watt College is good too.  It feels like we’re a little family of trainees who share our work experiences and help each other with our assignments.  I do think that as an apprentice you have more of an advantage than full-time students.  Earning money is also a benefit.”

Charlotte

Charlotte Turrall, apprentice at K9 Couture

Tails are always wagging at Tamworth dog parlour, K9 Couture where Charlotte is an apprentice.

“This is exactly the job I hoped it would be,” said Charlotte.  “I love meeting different clients and getting to know them.  I was doing an animal care course at college then realised I am 100% a dog person so wanted to focus on them. 

Charlotte is studying a Level 2 customer service qualification at Sutton Coldfield College.

“The Apprenticeship means I’m learning a lot more about dog care such as the best grooming products to use on different animals.  I really like the idea of becoming a freelance dog groomer so this is the perfect way for me to be trained up and do something I’ve always wanted to do.”

Jack

Jack Riese, apprentice at IPG Retail Limited

According to Jack, A Levels aren’t the only choice for school leavers – Apprenticeships are also a good option.  This is something he discovered through his role at IPG Retail Limited.

“The chance to be in work, learn about the insurance sector and achieve a qualification has really helped me,” he said.  “It’s set me up for a career in sales and financial services.”

Jack began his customer service qualification in July 2016 after completing his AS Levels.

“I’d studied AS Levels in accounts, business and economics and at that point, I knew I didn’t want to carry on with them,” he explained. 

As a member of IPG’s sales team, Jack helps to manage the company’s new clients, discussing their requirements and providing quotations.

“Overall, I think my Apprenticeship proves that going from school into the workplace can be a better option for some people than being in sixth form,” he added.  “It’s easy to see A Levels as something you automatically have to do, maybe because you think it’s what everyone’s doing.  Or, you might leave school and just go for the first thing that comes up, without seeing what else is out there.

“I would say to school leavers to think more carefully about what they do next.  Only go for something if you believe it’s 100% right for you.  I’m glad I didn’t just do what felt comfortable and instead went out and found something I would really enjoy that would bring out the best in me.”

Rhys

Apprentice accountant, Rhys Bridgens

Rhys has been an integral part of chartered accounting firm, ER Grove & Co since July 2016, while attending Stourbridge College every Monday to study his accounting course.

“From my first day here I felt like one of the team,” he said.  “I loved that they threw me right in at the deep end with big responsibilities such as managing big client accounts.”

Rhys applied for the apprenticeship after studying his AS Levels in accountancy, law and statistics and having a change of heart ahead of his second year.

He explained: “After leaving secondary school, people were telling me that A Levels were the next logical step, but after a year I realised I wasn’t suited to it and decided to search for an Apprenticeship in a similar subject area.

“My only real worry was that I’d lose my social life when I took up a full time job but that hasn’t been the case at all. I’m still able to hang out with friends and go the gym just as much as I did before and I got used to balancing my time really quickly.”

Rhys handles accounts from a wide variety of businesses across the globe and has needed to transition money in pounds, dollars and euros as well as review over 50 dormant accounts.

Rhys continued: “My advice to anyone thinking about doing an apprenticeship is to make sure it is something you are passionate about and in a sector you want to work in. You are investing your time, and the company’s time into your future career so make the most of it.

“I have no regrets about taking up the apprenticeship and often suggest it is a viable option to others who are at a similar crossroad that I found myself.”

Alicia

Alicia Hewins, Apprentice electrician

Apprentice electrician, Alicia enjoys the challenge of fault finding, wiring and replacing circuits.  She is one of three apprentices on Dudley Metropolitan Council’s rewiring team.

“It’s interesting work, but it can be complicated,” said the 20-year-old.  “You arrive at an empty house, work out how the wiring has previously been done and then decide how to fix any faults.  Or you re-do the whole thing.  You have to test it as well to make sure the whole thing is running okay.”

Construction expertise runs in Alicia’s family.  Her dad is an engineer and her two uncles are a carpenter and builder. 

“I was helping them out when I was younger and by 14, I was doing circuit work,” continued Alicia.  “I always knew I didn’t want an office job.  I always preferred messing about with things and creating stuff.

“My main ambition is to build my own house – in other words, rewire it and then put in the extras such as spotlights and speakers above the ceiling in every room that all connect to one another.  It will be an amazing feeling to say to that I’ve done all that.”

Alicia started her apprenticeship at the council after studying Level 2 and 3 electrical installation qualifications at Stourbridge College.  She is now adding to her knowledge by attending an inspection and testing course at James Watt College in Great Barr.

She added: “As an electrician, you’re thinking all the time about different approaches and you’re problem solving.  Every day is different.  And your career doesn’t suddenly stop when you’re qualified.  I’m interested in being an electrical design engineer, so have started looking into this.”