Apprenticeships

My experience with the Apprenticeship scheme as an ex apprentice

It’s National Apprenticeship Week, so as someone who has been through the apprenticeship process I thought I’d share some aspects of my experiences during that time.

It all started when I decided that I didn’t want to find an art related job anymore, it was too difficult to earn a living out of it and I didn’t want my love for it to diminish; so I kept it as a hobby. That decision left me in a bit of a sticky situation in that I needed to find a subject I liked enough to form a new career path from. I’ve always had an interest in IT; how computers work, how to fix problems with technology, how to protect yourself online and all that technical stuff. At the time I had an evening job, but it wasn’t nearly fulfilling enough for me. I applied for jobs for weeks and went to interviews but to no avail – although I had good grades at school, I had little to no experience in the field I was applying for; prospects didn’t look great.

Within two months of starting the apprenticeship, I got an interview with Building Tectonics and I have to admit, I was nervous. Turns out there was no need to be so nervous because I got the job and started work here the following week. When I started my work placement, for the duration of the apprenticeship I had to collect evidence of certain tasks being completed to meet criteria set out by the course; Building Tectonics were very facilitating when it came to letting me get this done. We’re an architectural technology company so when I was trying to collect evidence for an IT-based course it could be quite difficult at times, but with their help, I got everything I needed to complete the course.

My examiner would come out and see me every other week to see how I was progressing, both in the understanding of various aspects of IT and in terms of how far along I was in meeting all of the criteria I needed to complete the units given to me. Sadly, my examiner suddenly passed away partway through my course and so I was assigned another examiner, who I then needed to bring up to speed as to what I had completed and what was left for me to complete. I really felt for him because he’d lost a friend, and also had to pick up the remaining work for about 30 students – that couldn’t have been an easy transition!

Whilst I was progressing through the course, the company I work for decided to help other small companies understand what it’s like to have an apprentice within the team. A colleague at Building Tectonics and I spoke at an event hosted by the FSB (Federation of Small Businesses) along with Penny Power back in 2014. At the time I remember feeling quite nervous before giving my speech, but then once I got into it everything fell into place and it turned out quite well in my opinion. I’d like to think that we helped a few other small companies gain some clarity about the apprenticeship scheme.

Even with the obstacles mentioned above, I still finished my apprenticeship and earned the qualifications with the help of Building Tectonics. Although I’ve brought a lot of knowledge from the apprenticeship forward and put it to use within the workplace, there were certain aspects I believe could have been improved about the course; for example, the practical tasks given at college were sparse, and they would have helped in conjunction with the theoretical assignments. Other than that I can’t really complain; 5 years after taking the offer for a work placement here I’m sat in the office writing this blog, and I have the apprenticeship scheme to thank for that.

Written by Jade Turney, Building Tectonics.

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