National Apprenticeship Week is a week-long celebration that brings together businesses and apprentices across the country to shine a light on the positive impact that apprenticeships make to individuals, businesses and the wider economy. As part of these celebrations we shine a light on some of our Apprentices studying at UCG.
Job Title: Electrical Apprentice
Company: Access International Security
Course: Installation and Maintenance Electrician Apprenticeship Level 3
"Thinking about an apprenticeship – just go for it, it pays back dividends." - Freddie
At 19 Freddie is already an old hand at apprenticeships, having previously been enrolled on the Metropolitan Police apprenticeship scheme, but with his father and uncle both experienced electricians, felt a pull towards the family trade. Freddie found his apprenticeship employer via Brent Works; who are a Brent Council service helping local people into employment, and they put him in touch with Access International Security.
Freddie cites a variety of learning points as a real positive of apprenticeships. Learning the theory and getting to practice in a classroom or workshop at the college one day and putting this into practice in real world situations with additional help and advice from colleagues the next.
His experience with both the college and his employer has been nothing but positive so far. He has been impressed with his tutors at the College of North West London, especially highlighting Paul and Ray as being both engaged and passionate about their students and their success.
Freddie plans to work as an electrician for a number of years to gain as much experience as possible and in the future set up his own business and take on apprentices in order to pass on the knowledge he’s gained.
Job Title: Dry Liner Apprentice
Course: Interior Systems Installer Apprenticeship, Level 2
"YouTube is a great way to research what you are interested in – there are so many careers where apprenticeships can get you to where you want to be." - Mohamed
Mohamed was working in security but felt there was no clear career path for him and wanted to get into a trade, so he started looking on YouTube for ideas of what he was interested in and found out about dry lining. He found out about apprenticeships and through an agency found a company interested in taking him on.
His employers referred him to the College of North West London, and went through enrolment and his induction on the same day.
One of the benefits Mohamed has found with the onsite/college set up is that if he hasn’t quite understood something on site, he has his lecturers to turn to for help, and vice versa.
His employers have been very supportive, with daily check ins, tools provided and even £200 of vouchers for additional equipment if needed.
Mohamed chose to do an apprenticeship as he will be gaining knowledge from the college while gaining invaluable on-the-job experience. Throughout his apprenticeship K10 and Platt & Reilly have been very supportive every step of the way. His programme manager Cathal conducts regular reviews on site, to see how he is getting on and if he needs any further support.
Like many apprenticeship courses, Mohamed sees himself with his own business one day, but wants to spend a few more years learning his trade.
The opportunities to learn and the potential to set up on your own are some of the reasons Mohamed would recommend apprenticeships. He recommends doing your research, find something you are interested in and go for it. And if it’s not for you right now, don’t discount it in a few years’ time – there’s no age limit on apprenticeships, and if you’re not happy in your current job or course, it’s never too late to change careers!
Job Title: Gas Apprentice
Company: T Brown
Course: Gas Engineering Operative, Level 3
"With Apprenticeships you get a proper understanding of the vocation you are studying – theory at college, practical experience with your employer." - Summer
"Summer has excelled with fantastic feedback from her mentor, manager, and college alike. T Brown Group will continue to support Summer throughout her studies, but I feel the magic ingredient that Summer possesses is the right mindset. Not just to progress in her academic studies, but also in her own self development. Apprenticeships are a real opportunity for young people to obtain a lucrative career path, but it is essential that each individual recognises the opportunity that an apprenticeship brings, takes control of their own destiny, and invests in themselves and their future." - Aden Martin, T Brown
Summer had just completed her Plumbing Level 2 at College and the natural progression was to move on to Gas Level 3. She found that T Brown were offering apprenticeships so applied.
She was interviewed for the position where she was asked for her CV and qualifications and given a number of scenarios where she had to explain how she would deal with a given situation.
With an apprenticeship Summer is getting the benefit of work experience four days a week and can put the theory learned at college into practice. Her Plumbing qualification was not an apprenticeship so now the opportunity to get the practical experience while attending College means that her hand skills are developing.
Summer says that the college facilities and tutors are excellent, and enjoys the way she is being taught, and the practical workshop is of a standard that reflects her working environment with up-to-date equipment.
Looking to the future, Summer wants to become a good engineer, learn her trade and explore progression opportunities within T Brown once she has achieved her Gas apprenticeship.
Job Title: Civil Engineering Apprentice
Company: Balfour Beatty Vinci
Course: Construction and the Built Environment HNC
"You gain hands on experience which helps you retain information better, and acknowledge the real-life benefits of what you are learning." - Charlotte
Charlotte decided to do an apprenticeship following a work experience placement on the site of the HS2 project at the Old Oak Common Super-hub station. She didn’t know what apprenticeships were until taking part in the work experience, and but straight after applied herself to becoming a civil engineering apprentice.
The application process itself was straight forward however it is good to be patient in terms of progressing to the interviewing stages of the process. Charlotte believes her interview process went well as she prepared in advance by researching the company, and cultivating answers for possible questions which could have arisen.
She thinks that the benefit of on-the-job learning is that the information you learn is invaluable because you are continuously in an environment around people more knowledgeable than you. At first, she was a bit intimidated by the prospect of essentially not being good enough for her role however these misconceptions have been rebutted and she can’t express how appreciative she is of working in a place where you learn something new every day. Additionally, during college classes, you are able to brainstorm and just put your ideas and questions out there without fear of judgement because you are around a group of people who similarly just want to learn.
You gain hands on experience which helps you retain information better and acknowledge the real-life benefits of what you are learning; providing you with a greater sense of appreciation for what you do on a day to day basis.
Charlotte says that the lecturers have been a big part of her educational development, as well as the cohort of CWC staff that are responsible for managing apprenticeships on the campus.
After her current apprenticeship, Charlotte would like to progress onto a degree apprenticeship.
Asked what recommendations she would give to someone thinking about doing an apprenticeship, Charlotte says - just do it. You will reap more benefits than you would believe and if you think you might like to do a degree, please keep in mind that there are a plethora of degree apprenticeships out there.
Job Title: Bricklaying Apprentice
Company: Pyramid Builders
Course: Bricklayer Apprenticeship, Level 2
"I get paid while I am learning, whereas if I was at University, I would be working a part time job that would be unlikely to have any links to my studies." - Cian
"Cian has shown a real appetite for learning and improving his skills. His work ethic is second to none . He has already become a valued member of the team and will hopefully remain so for years to come." - Eamonn Barrett, Pyramid Builders Ltd.
Cian used to work as a buyer in the offices at Pyramid but wanted to leave the desk job and get involved with the practical side of the business.
To get some experience on site he went out to do some general labouring. Cian spoke with the foreman who suggested an apprenticeship, advising on how long it would take and what his working week would look like.
On the job he gets exposure to real experience of what he has learned at college. At college he learns the theory, as well as being exposed to additional skills such as decorative brickwork, gaining a rounded knowledge of construction principles. He also learns from experiences bricklayers on site.
Cian feels that the lecturers have been extremely helpful and have great knowledge and experience, and that the college facilities are the perfect learning environment.
Equally, his employers have been extremely supportive in allowing him to change career and learn a new trade.
He wants to continue to improve his bricklaying skills with the aim of becoming a manager on site in the future.
Job Title: Refrigeration Apprentice
Company: Arcus FM
Course: Refrigeration, Air Conditioning and Heat Pump Engineering Technician Level 3
"I wish I had joined an apprenticeship when I was younger. Never not do something because you are unsure or scared, just go for it! " - Nathan
"We were thrilled when Nathan joined Arcus in one of our refrigeration apprentice roles, much like all our apprentices we see a great future ahead for Nathan and hope that our continued work with CNWL and our commitment to apprenticeships helps not just the individuals in our employment, but also helps the UK skills shortage that is emerging across the UK." - Arcus
Nathan was working in the training department of Arcus, a facilities management company and saw how colleagues were being put forward for training and moving along in their careers. He spoke to his manager about getting into a trade but wasn’t sure which one. His manager recommended refrigeration as there’s a skills shortage in this field, which led him to the College of North West London – one of a few colleges to offer this as an apprenticeship course.
Nathan loves that every day is different – one day working on maintenance, another on servicing, the next shadowing a lead engineer… every day is a learning day.
Another big advantage of apprenticeships over full time study is the salary. Having a regular income whilst you are learning really makes a difference.
Nathan wants to continue working with Arcus when his apprenticeship finishes, wanting to pay back the faith they put in him by setting him on this career path.
Curious about Apprenticeships? We’re celebrating National Apprenticeship Week with a series of drop-in sessions.When: Monday 5 - Friday 9 February, 12:30-1:30pm
Where: Willesden and Paddington Green Campuses
What: Explore the possibilities, gain valuable insights, and ignite your career!