Apprenticeships

My experience with the Apprenticeship scheme as an employer

As mentioned in our previous blog, it’s National Apprenticeship Week and as an employer, I’m very happy to give my thoughts on the subject of apprenticeships. We were very fortunate when choosing our apprentice as she has been a real credit to the apprenticeship system and to Building Tectonics. Personally speaking, education and educational establishments exist in a parallel universe to the one that working people inhabit, but nonetheless, education is important and if anything could bridge the gap between the two worlds then the apprenticeship scheme can be heralded as an advance towards that goal.

Our Apprentice did an IT apprenticeship and even though as a company we do have IT skills, they don’t cover the range of knowledge that is studied in an IT course. So we now have a member of the team who went through the apprenticeship scheme with an overall knowledge of what we do and how we do it using IT, and also has a smattering of knowledge that has seen us through the worst calamities that IT has thrown at us to date. May long it be the case.

Having now seen how useful the apprenticeship system can be, what saddens me is that there is no apprenticeship that is really geared up for our industry yet. I find it extraordinary that this is the case, given the fact that so many people are engaged in the areas of building and architectural technology, and that skills are so woefully lacking. I’ve been talking to my professional body, CIAT, about pushing such an apprenticeship up our agenda; it seems that there is the Construction Design and Build Technician Apprenticeship but few apprenticeship providers offer this particular course because they don’t think there is enough demand to warrant it.

I believe that if the government is serious about building new houses (minus the faults recently reported in the press) on the scale that is nationally needed, we’d better start thinking about building technology and treating this subject with the importance it deserves.

Written by Tony Keller, Building Tectonics.

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.

Apprenticeships

I’m an apprentice.

We have an event coming up, which is all about what it’s like having an apprentice in a small business, and so I thought I’d write about the other side of that – what it’s like as an apprentice going into a small business.

My name’s Jade, and I’m currently doing an apprenticeship studying to become a qualified IT technician whilst working at Building Tectonics.

Previous to working at Building Tectonics, I completed a course at Bletchley college, acquiring a BTEC National Diploma in Art and Design, and a level two certificate in communications. I have also exhibited some of my artwork from that course in Milton Keynes shopping centre, outside John Lewis. Even with these qualifications and the experience, it was still very difficult to find a job around my area within the field of art.

I decided that I’d steer away from this when looking for a new job this year as the job which I was in at the time wasn’t fulfilling enough. I had a real interest in technology and computers, so I thought that it would be a logical move to pursue a career in IT. I did some research into the apprenticeship scheme and thought that it sounded promising, due to the fact that you can get qualifications and experience from them, neither of which I had in the field of IT.

I applied for the apprenticeship I am currently doing at the moment and had a very quick response from Nitp. I have completed the college side of the apprenticeship, which was quite intense as the whole apprenticeship was meant to be a two-year course, but they condensed it down to one year. It could be a bit quickly paced at times, but I got through it.

After hearing about Building Tectonics and the fact that they were looking for someone to help with the IT side of things, I got an interview and now I help with any IT support which is needed here, for example; fixing any faults which may occur with any of our machines, maintaining and updating our website. I also handle much of the marketing here, including working on the website, writing blogs,  keeping track of our social networks, creating leaflets and posters for events among any other things which need doing.

It has been a real experience so far, as in the ‘real world’ I’ve not only been learning all of the things which I need to know to complete the qualifications to be a technician, but working at Building Tectonics I’ve also been learning about the architectural process, how to draw some of the architectural drawings within that process among many other things. So I’m getting a lot more than I expected from this experience. I feel lucky to have this experience, and believe that apprenticeships are a very good way for anyone looking to get into a completely new career.

Written by Jade Turney – Building Tectonics Ltd.