Marking a decade of earning and learning with apprenticeships

Mark Waldron, editor of The News, presents the Apprentice of the Year award to Peter Wilson from Barratt Homes at The News' Business Excellence Awards 2017 at Portsmouth Guildhall
Mark Waldron, editor of The News, presents the Apprentice of the Year award to Peter Wilson from Barratt Homes at The News' Business Excellence Awards 2017 at Portsmouth Guildhall
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Apprenticeships are becoming an increasingly common way into work, with young people gaining qualifications while they earn.

The 10th annual National Apprenticeship Week takes place next week.

As schools, colleges, businesses and individuals prepare to celebrate the positive impact apprenticeships have made over the past 10 years, we look at some of the firms employing apprentices and find out why.

National Apprenticeship Week is co-ordinated by the National Apprenticeship Service.

It is designed to celebrate apprenticeships and traineeships and the impact that they have on individuals, businesses and the wider economy.

According to government figures, the number of people choosing an apprenticeship as a way into their career is on the rise.

Apprenticeship participation rose 3.2 per cent in the 2015/16 academic year, taking it to the highest level on record.

Fareham coach firm Lucketts says it has seen that reflected locally as it has taken on more apprentices in recent years.

Mark Jordan, engineering director, says the company is seeing an increasing number of enquiries from eager youngsters looking to get apprenticeships.

He explains: ‘Young people seem to be much more clued-up on the various pathways open to them these days and that’s great news.

‘We get a lot of calls from school-leavers and their parents asking if we have any apprenticeship vacancies.

‘They know that with an apprenticeship they have a much more hands-on learning experience compared to traditional A-levels, plus the added bonus of earning while they’re learning.’

According to government figures, apprenticeships boost business productivity by on average £214 per week.

Three-quarters of employers say that apprenticeships improve the quality of their product or service.

But it’s not just businesses who benefit from apprenticeship schemes, according to 25-year-old Peter Wilson who was named The News’ Apprentice of the Year at the Business Excellence Awards earlier this month.

Peter was chosen by the judges for his work creating the Stride Centre in Havant, leading a team of apprentices – thought to be a first for a UK project.

Peter, who works for Barratt Homes, said: ‘I’ve got to do so many things I would never had the chance to do if I’d gone down the traditional academic pathway. I’ve worked on some amazing projects and even got to meet the government’s housing minister.

‘I’d definitely recommend an apprenticeship as a great way to get into the construction industry.’

To find out more about National Apprenticeship Week visit gov.uk/naw2017

PETER WILSON

Peter Wilson didn’t start his site management apprenticeship with Barratt Homes until he was 23. Despite a later start, he’s laid the foundations for a high-earning career and was named The News’ Apprentice of the Year.

What were you doing before you started your apprenticeship with Barratt Homes?

I was working as a carpenter and I’d actually already completed one apprenticeship. I enjoyed carpentry, but I knew it wasn’t what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I wanted to get into the management side of construction, so started looking into companies that might take on an older apprentice. I met Anthony Dimmick from Barratt Homes and after an interview he offered me a job as an apprentice site manager.

What kind of things have you done as part of your apprenticeship?

I’ve worked on lots of different housing developments doing everything from health and safety to programming works. It’s really rewarding to know that I’ve played a part in creating a new community.

Do you get given any responsibility as an apprentice?

What I like about Barratt Homes is they really trust their apprentices and don’t just sit them in a corner with the simple jobs. I was lucky enough to be involved in their project where a team of apprentices worked together to build a community centre all by ourselves. Apparently it’s the first time it’s been done in the UK and it’s meant I’ve got to meet MPs and even appear on TV.

What’s been the highlight of your apprenticeship?

Winning The News’ Apprentice of the Year award was amazing. I was also named Barratt Homes’ Apprentice of the Year which was an honour.

What’s your advice to anyone thinking about starting an apprenticeship later in life?

My advice to anyone who’s thinking about changing career is not to be afraid of going back to the books. It’s never too late to learn!

CALLUM GRANT

Callum Grant, 21, studied an apprenticeship with Fareham coach firm Lucketts. He’s now been taken on full-time as an engineer and has the opportunity to travel to countries such as Austria as part of his job.

He was highly commended in the Apprentice of the Year category at this year’s News Business Excellence Awards. What made you choose an apprenticeship in engineering?

I didn’t want a career where I’d be sat behind a desk and I’d always had an interest in cars. I saw the apprenticeship with Lucketts advertised online and thought I’d go for it.

Where did you do your learning?

It was a mixture of learning on the job from people who had been doing it for years and then studying at City College Southampton for my qualifications. Even the time at college was hands-on learning, which I enjoyed. They have a huge motor vehicle workshop.

What’s the best thing you’ve got to do as part of your apprenticeship?

I was really lucky because Lucketts paid for all of my driving lessons and my driving test. It’s something that’s normally quite an expense for 17-year-olds, so I’m really grateful I got it all paid for.

They also paid for me to learn to drive a coach and this year I’ve got the chance to drive one to Austria, which is pretty cool!

What was the hardest part of your apprenticeship?

For me it was just the first six months, getting used to being the young one who doesn’t know what they’re doing.

Everyone was really nice though and I soon settled in. It’s always a big step going from school to the workplace.

What would your advice be to anyone starting an apprenticeship?

Take every opportunity that’s thrown your way. Every job, even if it seems unglamorous, is the chance to learn something new.

ALICIA BUCKLAND

Alicia Buckland, 18, has just secured herself a full-time job as a marketing assistant with Taylor Made Computer Solutions after completing an apprenticeship with the company.

What made you choose an apprenticeship?

I wanted to get straight on and learn about the job by doing it rather than going to college and doing the standard A levels.

How long did your apprenticeship take?

My apprenticeship took 13 months to complete. During that time I did the majority of my learning at Taylor Made and some additional training and exams with PETA in Portsmouth.

What was it like balancing studying with working?

I didn’t think it was too difficult. I would block out some time during the day to complete the studying I had to do and Taylor Made was good with letting me do some of my assignments during work time when I wasn’t busy.

Would you recommend an apprenticeship and, if so, why?

I would definitely recommend an apprenticeship to people who were thinking of doing one, it was the best decision I could have made over going to college. I learned so much more than I ever thought I would and working with the most amazing people at Taylor Made definitely made this worthwhile.