We interviewed the 2016 Apprentice of the Year Award winners fresh from the podium and asked them about their experiences.
Allow us to introduce you to the Apprentice of the Year Award winners – three young people who want to tell you about their experience of apprenticeships.
Charlotte is the winner of the Intermediate Apprentice of the Year Award. She began her apprenticeship after completing her GCSEs. She visited Exceed salon looking for a Saturday job and was told about their apprenticeship programme. Since then Charlotte has gained a Level 2 and a Level 3 NVQ in Hairdressing and is now working toward a Level 2 NVQ in Nail Services.
The benefit of the apprenticeship route
For Charlotte, the benefit of taking the apprenticeship route has been getting paid, which motivated her to learn. She also said that learning on the job has forced her to develop customer service skills, something that she didn’t feel she would have done studying full time.
Charlotte told us that winning the award was a bit overwhelming at first but that she is very proud of herself and is keen to encourage others to look at the apprenticeship route into work and Charlotte visits schools and colleges to inform other young people about the apprenticeships.
Charlotte’s advice? “Research what you can do before you just choose the safe option.”
Higher and Degree Apprentice of the Year
Holly is the winner of the Higher and Degree Apprentice of the Year Award. She is a product design engineer and loves the fact that everyday her job is different. Holly has gained a Mechanical Engineering Degree by attending university one day a week whilst working as an apprentice the other four.
Holly knew when she had done her GCSEs that she wanted to be an engineer and she wanted to take a study route that was directed specifically at engineering, so she enrolled at the newly opened JCB Academy.
Holly studied for a National Diploma in Engineering and this allowed her to do all aspects of engineering including design and manufacturing. One of the best things that Holly found was that as part of her study she was able to work on real projects with the likes of Bentley, National Grid, Bosch and Network Rail. This, she told us, gave her a great insight into the companies, exposure to employers and a context to her theoretical study.
Undertaking a degree apprenticeship is not for the faint-hearted according to Holly; she’s had to balance working with study. However, she tells us that it was all worth it and that it has been a challenging but also a brilliant experience that will make her stand out as a candidate.
We asked Holly about her experience as a female working in what is traditionally seen as a male industry. She told us that she has never felt out of place as a female and that she believes that there is problem with the perception of engineering – that people think of a mechanic working in a garage and don’t understand the huge variety of engineering careers.
Advanced Apprentice of the Year
Adam is the winner of the Advanced Apprentice of the Year Award and he certainly stands out from the crowd. After completing his A-levels Adam moved 150 miles from East Yorkshire to Cumbria in order to do his Apprenticeship in Mechanical Design Engineering in the nuclear industry. For Adam, the way forward is nuclear and he is confident of his employment prospects.
We asked Adam why he chose the apprenticeship route; his answer?
“Whilst studying for A-levels in maths, chemistry, biology and physics, all subjects that I loved, I had in mind a career as a science engineer or lab technician. I was sick of classroom-based education though and I wanted to get out there and do the real thing.
“With very little advice, being encouraged to work on UCAS, and feeling like choosing an alternative route was a bit taboo, I took myself online and with the support of my dad I found out about the apprenticeship.”
Four years later and Adam has completed his Apprenticeship in Design and Drafting and has gained a Foundation Degree in Plant Engineering by attending university one day a week like Holly did.
Like Holly, Adam found it challenging balancing work and study. He was tired at the end of the working day when he still had study to do, but nevertheless feels that it was all worth it in the end – that it was intense but great.
In the future Adam would like to gain a master’s degree and chartered engineer status and become lead or senior engineer.
Adam’s advice? “If you see a good apprenticeship – grab it!”