This week marks National Apprenticeship Week 2024. This year’s theme “Skills for Life” highlights the importance of apprenticeships to the UK job market, a pressing issue after 71 per cent of UK businesses dealt with labour shortages last year.
Apprenticeships give young people a non-academic route to employment, often involving hands-on work and trades skills that can start lengthy and fulfilling careers.
Their popularity is on the rise: in the 2022/23 academic year, 337,140 people began apprenticeships in England. We spoke to three of our own apprentices to understand how fulfilling apprenticeships can be:
1. Why did you choose to do an apprenticeship?
Luke Hardman – Installation Electrician and Maintenance Electrician, Level 3 apprentice: I chose to do an apprenticeship because it gives me the opportunity to gain valuable work experience, achieve a recognised qualification, and provides a pathway to a rewarding career.
Mark Hughes – Team Leader / Supervisor, Level 3 apprentice and ILM trainee: I was given the chance to complete an ILM Level 3 course following my move into a supervisory position. It has given me the opportunity to demonstrate certain skills and theories that can assist future work in decision making, along with people and time management.
Neal King – Team Leader / Supervisor, Level 3 apprentice and ILM trainee: I believe it’s never too late to learn a new skillset, as what we’ve trained for early in life isn’t necessarily what will be right for us 20 years later. I think this is especially important to consider when working practices and environmental issues are changing so rapidly.
2. What skills have you gained, both professionally and personally?
Luke: I have been given the opportunity to work alongside qualified, industry professionals and learn from their knowledge and experience. Attending college on day release provides me the technical and practical training to work towards a professional qualification.
Mark: I’ve gained knowledge and skills that have reassured my ability to make decisions and support my management team. My course has also shown me the skill of prioritisation.
Neal: I would say that my largest growth has been in understanding how information is received and applied by others, as well as relaying that information in a format that is clear and concise.
3. What has your apprenticeship been like?
Luke: My apprenticeship has made me more confident, as I’ve had the opportunity to work away from home with my teammates and completed numerous extra training, such as the International Powered Access Federation.
Mark: I’ve found this experience very friendly, professional, and interesting. EMCOR UK and the external training organisation group have fully supported my work. We’ve held regular meetings to check my work, modules, and go over my feedback.
I also feel that support is available for any concerns involving my personal wellbeing. Thanks to this, I feel more comfortable to voice any need for help and support.
Neal: To be honest, I have had my ups and downs as some areas have been really challenging in comparison to what I’m used to. In other areas, I’ve felt a lot stronger, even at stages where I initially thought I’d struggled.
4. What would you say to anyone looking to do an apprenticeship?
Luke: I would highly recommend an apprenticeship to gain hands on work experience while working towards a professional qualification. As an apprentice, you’re fully supported and provided with all the training and skills required to reach your full potential, so you can have the successful career you’re aiming for.
Mark: I’d definitely recommend further studies to any person, and at any age. Not only can they help you excel in your given field, but you can also gain knowledge and experience to further your career in a role you aim to gain promotion.
Neal: It doesn’t matter where you’ve come from, the timing in your life, the understanding you have of technology or anything like that. As your body and mental health change over time, it’s daft to think that people have to carry the exact same job from 17-67 years old.
I’d say, old dogs can learn new tricks, and with an apprenticeship, you can learn tricks you never knew you were capable of.
If you’d like to know more about our apprenticeships, you can find out more here.