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Sian completed a Level 2 apprenticeship with Petroc and currently works in an administrative role at the NHS.
Level 2 Business and Administration Apprenticeship
"I studied Business Administration Level 2 at Petroc. At first I was apprehensive about going back into a learning environment as I have always struggled with theory-based learning; I am a practical, kinaesthetic learner. However, among a couple of the other units I really enjoyed the unit which focused on employees’ rights and responsibilities.
I was able to expand my knowledge of how contracts, job specifications, policies and procedures can be used to support the employees as much as the employer, for example, in the event of possible misconduct or grievances, expectations and requirements within the workplace. Recently I have been able to apply this knowledge while being short staffed at work, with staffing numbers being under 50%.
We have had to work very closely together and support each other as best we can. I have therefore been able to support my colleagues by encouraging them to work alongside the guidelines and procedures which must be followed when using a Business Continuity Plan (BCP). We have been able to forward plan and foresee obstacles and eliminate them before they make an impact on the team or the running of our department. Furthermore, I have worked very closely with my Line Manager and Deputy Manager to identify risks or possible deviations from the policies and procedures in which we must all follow for safety and the well-being of myself and all staff.
My plan for future study is to enrol onto the Level 3 Business Administration course at Petroc next year, once I have finished my secondment covering maternity leave. My long-term plan is to build up my qualifications and experience in business administration with the view of applying and hopefully securing a higher banded role within the NHS trust I work in. Therefore taking on higher responsibly, developing my skill set further and continuing to learn how to better myself and my knowledge of admin support in a variety of settings and environments."
Alex completed his apprenticeship in 2017.
Alex was on the Advanced Apprenticeship in Vehicle Body Repair and won the Outstanding Apprentice in Vehicle Accident and Repair Prize at the Leadership and Higher Technical Skills Awards Evening.
What was the highlight of your apprenticeship?
The highlight of my career so far was painting the Toyota Supra from the Fast and Furious live show tour (see photos below). The car was an exact replica of the car from the first film driven by Paul Walker's character, Brian. I even had to ring up a guy called Junior in California to get the correct painting process as it is a 3-stage pearlescent paint. The car has been all over Europe and is due to go to America soon.
What are the benefits of doing an apprenticeship?
The best part of an apprenticeship is that you get paid as you learn. You also get the best qualifications in your chosen field if you climb up the levels. Also you make great bonds with lecturers and friends with other students.
Tell us about your current job
I currently work with my dad and I do all the paintwork - I'm head of bodywork and refinishing.
What does a typical day at work involve?
On a typical day I'm working on classic cars, usually MG Bs and Cs but I've done everything from Jensens to Jaguars. I do all the body repair and shaping up to applying top coat and polishing.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
In 10 years I'd like to either be working for a prestigious restoration company or have my own workshop and business restoring cars and doing custom paint work.
Tom is a plumbing apprentice and recently won the regional heat of the HIP UK Heating Apprentice of the Year Competition
Advanced Apprenticeship in Plumbing and Mechanical Engineering Services
North Devon Campus
“I always knew that I was going to become a plumber. My dad is a plumbing and heating engineer and runs his own business, so it was natural for me to follow in his footsteps and become his apprentice.
I recently competed in the HIP UK Heating Apprentice of the Year Competition and won the regional heat, and will progress to the final later in the year. The work I do at college and in my job prepared me well and my lecturer was really supportive and helped me put in extra practise ahead of the competition.
In the future I’d like to help my dad expand his business and one day I expect I will take it over.”
Lisa is doing a Maintenance and Operations Engineering apprenticeship at our Mid Devon campus and works as a Production Engineering team leader at Potter and Moore.
Apprenticeship in Managment and Operations Enginering Technology Level 3Campus: Mid DevonEmployer: Potter and Moore
"I'm doing an apprenticeship to get the certification and training to advance within my job. Engineering is all I ever wanted to do. I started in the RAF as an Air Frames Mechanic and was in the RAF for 11 years.
"It is not easy working in engineering and working in a male-dominated industry until they get to know you and then they see past the gender difference. But it is easier now than when I first left the RAF. You have to have a thick skin and you have to prove yourself more than the lads do but it is so rewarding to do something different. You get respect from everyone from doing a different job.
"I am not Lisa, the 'female' engineer; I am Lisa, the engineer! Workplaces should be genderless no matter where you are. If we could get more women in the trade that would be great. Women and men have a different way of thinking."
Kristina undertook her Level 5 apprenticeship while employed at Torridge District Council, meaning she earned while she learned.
Higher Apprenticeship in Leadership and ManagementEmployer: Torridge District Council
I have been in the job that I’m in for 12 years and I couldn’t really progress. I wanted to do something that could open up opportunities in a different department. I wanted to get into team leading so that was something that might open up a few doors for me which it has, as I’ve been offered a new job! As a council we have done apprenticeships before as many colleges have done them. There was quite a lot of interest in it so HR arranged something for us.
I started my apprenticeship in 2016 and I finished yesterday. We had Friday mornings in the town hall and that helped me through the course as I have had no experience in management before this. Having contact with the lecturer once a week was helpful. The other training was on the job.
I have just got a supervisor job and the essential criteria was to have this course. It’s been a massive help to me. I am being paid to work and studying on the job. The other thing was I was a bit apprehensive as it would be a lot of work but I found it quite manageable.
I think if you want to progress at all and you have been in a job for quite some time, an apprenticeship is a good way to branch out while working. I don’t think there’s enough awareness about upskilling through apprenticeships.
Everyone has been supportive here. I’ve been surprised what you can do when you put your mind to it. I would do it again and I would recommend it. It’s opened up a lot of doors to me. My other colleagues have all enjoyed it and they are all interested in the Level 7.
Jo is working with Applegate on a Degree Apprenticeship in Management and Leadership
Degree Apprenticeship in Management and LeadershipEmployer: ApplegatePreviously: Level 3 Extended Diploma in BusinessFormer school: Great Torrington Community College
I can’t wait to make my 2017 more eventful, by doing exactly what I want to do at the weekend and making great memories with my friends.
It’s all possible after I accepted the fantastic degree apprenticeship opportunity with Applegate. Not only am I saving money while still studying for a Business Management degree, but I am getting fed and watered every morning too, as Applegate puts on breakfast for its employees.
This time last year I had no clue what I wanted to do. I considered travelling and going to university but I really only wanted to experience the lifestyle. I accepted this opportunity at Applegate because it gave me the best of both worlds. I am still at university and I also get six weeks to travel in the summer if I want to.
I may make some dodgy decisions at the weekend but this is one decision I definitely don’t regret. I’ve experience tradeshows and having everything paid for, and I’ve got the ability to save up to £10,000 for a house which the company will match. There are many educational benefits of this Apprenticeship too, but really I enjoy it because I spend my working day with people who are on the same level of banter as me – and I’m in control of the radio!
I’ve received employee of the month, I always get recognised for the work I do and I am supported with my university work by any employee that can be of some help.
I am currently studying my Business Management degree and am an Apprentice at Applegate Marketplace. If you feel like this opportunity could suit you, Applegate are taking on 10 more degree apprentices in September. It’s a five-year commitment, but the benefits are endless.
See you at the festivals!
Emma is an apprentice plumber with Heatology Ltd in Exeter.
Plumbing and Heating Apprenticeship
Emma is an apprentice plumber. She works at Heatology Ltd in Exeter four days a week and comes to Petroc’s Mid Devon Campus on Mondays.
Emma already had her job at Heatology Ltd when she approached Petroc about an apprenticeship. She chose Petroc mainly because of the college’s great reputation within the industry and felt the NVQ course at Tiverton would enable her to build a solid skills base and enhance her general competence. Also, Petroc’s focus on renewable energies (heat pumps/solar panels) was particularly appealing.
Emma is very happy as an apprentice with Petroc – she enjoys constant academic support and regular visits by her Workplace Assessor.
“Because my learning pace is so flexible and varied, it fits around my job nicely – I feel there are no barriers to me achieving my goals.”
Holly has been so successful on the traineeship programme that she has recently been offered an apprenticeship position with her employer.
Here, she talks about her journey to get to this point…
“Last year, I took Travel and Tourism and I passed the course at the end of the year. However, I didn’t want to continue on another course and, instead, decided I wanted to do an apprenticeship.
I knew about traineeships, as I had met with Allie Leverton (programme manager) at the end of last year and discussed the possibility of going onto this course, which would fulfil my dream of getting on an apprenticeship. As time went on, though, I guess I buried my head in the sand and did nothing about it.
An opportunity came up for an apprenticeship in my local hairdressers in Braunton and I liked the idea of working in hair and beauty. I remembered all that Allie said in my meeting with her previously and I emailed her to ask for help on how to go about applying.
Allie emailed me back and asked me to go and see her in college. Allie then spoke to the hair and beauty manager at Petroc and set everything up for me. Within a week I was doing maths and English and had the apprenticeship in my local hairdressers.
However, as time went by I decided that hair and beauty wasn’t for me, so I spoke to my boss and explained that I felt this wasn’t for me and thanked her for her opportunity. Again, I was out on a limb and wasn’t sure what to do next.
I contacted Allie again and she called me in to see her at Petroc. We went over all my options and discussed what I wanted to do. Allie always made me feel at ease and listened to what I had to say and what I wanted to achieve.
I am now doing a traineeship at Bright Start and Little Fishes and I can honestly say that I feel more confident within myself and am actually taking in everything that Allie is teaching me. Allie makes the course interesting and fun and makes everyone feel at ease.
I have always felt that I couldn’t achieve in a classroom setting and I would bury my head and I never felt I could speak out in lessons due to feeling shy and worried that I would say the wrong thing and people would laugh at me.
During the short time I have been working with Allie, she has made me feel that I don’t need to feel this way and I can achieve and do well. I honestly think that if I hadn’t have met Allie, I would still be burying my head and doing nothing with my life. So, I’d like to thank Allie for making me realise that I am worth it.
I would highly recommend doing the traineeship course, as I have gained so much from it and Allie has been absolutely amazing and I couldn’t have wished for better help than the help that Allie has given me.”
Holly’s mum has noticed a big difference in Holly over the past few months…
“The transformation in Holly has been quite dramatic. In the short time that she’ been on the traineeship her confidence has grown so much and, for the first time, she’s making plans about her future.
Holly had a tough time at school and was badly bullied, which knocked all her confidence. Eventually she has found someone who believes in her ability and I can’t thank Allie enough for all that she’s done for Holly."
Johan is on a Level 2 Apprenticeship in Light Vehicle Maintenance and Repair and works at Garage Exeter.
Light Vehicle Maintenance & Repair Apprenticeship Level 2
Employer: Garage Exeter, Exeter
Johan Laarveld will graduate from his course in June 2017. Like the majority of Petroc’s apprentices, he will be qualified with plenty of hands-on industry experience.
Two years ago Johan knew he wanted to be a mechanic and that an apprenticeship at a forward-thinking garage was the best way to achieve his goals. He found his apprenticeship before starting the course at Petroc and we made the arrangements to provide the necessary learning programme. Johan attends college one day per week at our Barnstaple campus for instructor-led training – which he then puts into practice at work the following week.
It would be fair to say that Johan is addicted to cars and that the faster and noisier they are, the better. His apprenticeship at Garage Exeter exposes him to some high-performance vehicles and he benefits from expert training and guidance from his employers, who want to train him up to their level.
Last year, while on his Level 1 course, Johan was selected for a two-week placement at a Ford garage in Spain (despite knowing no Spanish)! Johan made Petroc and his employers at Garage Exeter proud.
When asked if he had any advice for other young people considering their next steps after school, Johan said:
“Take any experience you can get. All experience is valuable and will help you get a job. Attitude is key!”.
Robert Luxon is currently studying Wood Occupations at our Mid Devon Campus.
Employer: Cut Right Carpenters Limited
After school I started a combined A Level / BTEC course at Exeter College. I chose the subjects I thought I would like but after a year, I realised that I really didn’t enjoy the course and wanted to do something more engaging and practical. Also, as I live near Tiverton, I had to get the bus to Exeter and I found the service unreliable.
After I left Exeter College, I took a summer job (connected with carpentry) and my employer told me that Petroc offers practical courses to prepare for a job I actually want to do. My experience that summer convinced me that carpentry was what I wanted to do and so I enrolled at Petroc on the Apprenticeship in Site Carpentry, so I could keep my job and continue my education.
The course is great. The focus is more on the practical elements of carpentry rather than just reading about it and I have made friends on the course even though I am still in my first week.
Wood Occupations Levels 1 & 2 will enable me to become a carpenter in just a few years or I could continue my study and do the Level 3 course to develop my skills further.
My advice to anyone who is having doubts about their A Level course is simple – ask yourself - is this course taking me to where I want to be? It’s not too late to change your mind or your college. If you feel a move would be best for you, just go for it.
Now I have started at Petroc, I know I am on the path to the job I want. I made the right move.
Bradley is just coming to the end of a Level 2 plumbing apprenticeship with Flowtech Heating Services Ltd
“I initially started on a full time Level 1 plumbing course, back in 2013. I had heard really good things about the course from friends, so it was an obvious choice to come to Petroc. And then, after a year, I found employment with Flowtech Heating Services Ltd and switched to the Level 2 plumbing apprenticeship.
I’ve always been interested in plumbing, ever since I completed a work experience placement during school. I like the fact that, with plumbing, there is a real variety of work and you get to work on a lot of different projects. There’s never time to get bored.
I’m lucky that my employer is really supportive of apprenticeships, and makes sure that I get involved in lots of different aspects of plumbing, to give me as much hands-on experience as possible.
Last summer we completed a big project working on a Canadian-style house, with zero heating loss. This was a big challenge and we came up against a lot of hurdles, but it was a fantastic experience and taught me so much about renewables. This is obviously an area of huge growth at the moment, so it was really interesting to see some of the up and coming advances in the industry.
Apprenticeships are a great route into plumbing, as you have the best of both worlds; on-the-job training with people who are out there in the industry, supported by essential theory-based work at college.
I am now just coming to the end of my two-year apprenticeship. My plan is to stay with my current employer for the foreseeable future, and gain more knowledge and experience. I’d also like to think about doing additional training, and perhaps specialising in one particular area.
My long-term goal is to eventually run my own business, and give other people the opportunities that I’ve had through my employer. I like the idea of having the flexibility and independence that comes with being self-employed, but I understand that this is a long way down the line, once I’ve gained far more experience.”
Olly Spear is studying a Foundation Degree in Computing as part of a IT & Telecoms Higher Apprenticeship.
Why did you choose to come to Petroc?
When I finished my GCSEs I knew I wanted to do IT. West Buckland did offer an A Level in IT but it didn't run because there wasn’t enough interest.
I then decided to attend one of the Petroc Open Events and learnt more about the BTEC in Information Technology. I have never been particularly academic, so the fact that there were no exams made it very appealing.
…And what made you pick this particular study programme/course?
After completing the BTEC I was keen to study at HE level, but Tim Barker – my course tutor – informed me about the potential opportunity of a Higher Apprenticeship with Travis Perkins. After meeting with them and taking a competency test I was taken on. I currently work for four days and have one day at college. Having the opportunity to work while gaining a Foundation Degree in Computing is a win-win situation.
Which elements of your study programme/course do you particularly enjoy?
I love doing Java and it's definitely my favourite subject. The way the course is set up - learning three subjects each year – means that you can really develop a solid understand of a topic; I've learnt about so many things that I wouldn’t have known even existed!
What have been the highlights so far (trips, visits, projects etc.)?
Since being on the course my knowledge of programming has shot through the roof. The fact that I am paired with another programmer while at Travis Perkins really helps me develop my skills. My day at college helps me with the theory side of the work I do during the rest of the week, so it’s a great way of learning.
What do you most enjoy about studying at Petroc?
I can’t say what I enjoy the most as I haven't yet completed the course, but currently it has definitely been learning about Java and computer systems.
What do you most plan to do when you leave college?
It all depends on what Travis Perkins say. I would love to go down to Plymouth and gain a full degree, but for the minute I am completely open.
What's the long term plan (further study, career etc.)?
I definitely want to become a computer programmer, and I feel studying an apprenticeship through Petroc is the best method of me doing so.
Any advice for someone thinking of choosing the same course as you?
If you know it's something that you want to, don’t waste any time and definitely do it!
Ben is on an Apprenticeship in Light Vehicle Maintenance & Repair and works at Volkswagen in Barnstaple
Apprenticeship in Light Vehicle Maintenance & Repair
“I originally trained as a plasterer. However, work dried up during the recession so I started thinking about alternative careers.
I’ve always loved cars and really enjoy the challenge of getting something that’s broken working again. I’ve spent many a cold night on my driveway working on either my cars or my friends’ cars over the years. I relax when I work on cars – it’s my way of destressing.
Volkswagen in Barnstaple were looking for a service washer so I applied; this was my foot in the door. I then became a driver, collecting customers’ cars and bringing them into the garage.
After a while I sat down with my boss and said that I was keen to retrain and progress my career, so he called the college to ask about apprenticeship opportunities. Shortly after I had an interview for the motor vehicle apprenticeship and was offered a place.
An apprenticeship really suits my way of learning. I’m much better doing practical, hands-on work and learning on the job. The majority of assessments are practical assessments in the workplace, along with some multiple choice tests and written tests.
I’m so glad I made the switch from plastering. I find this industry so rewarding, as you’re working on someone’s pride and joy. I’d like to see how far I can get within this company, and hopefully work my way up to master technician one day. Then, perhaps, I’d think about setting up my own garage.”
Marcus is on an IT and Telecoms Advanced Apprenticeship and works at Petroc
IT and Telecoms Advanced Apprenticeship
“After completing A Levels at Petroc I went off to university to do media productions. However, I soon realised that the university style of learning wasn’t right for me and I ended up leaving after the first year.
I had always had an interest in web design, so when I saw the vacancy come up for an IT apprentice at Petroc I decided to apply. I liked the idea of earning whilst gaining the qualifications I needed to progress in the industry.
Unlike university, I really like the fact that on an apprenticeship I can apply what I’ve learnt straight away and see how it is relevant in a work environment. An apprenticeship is a really good balance, because you also get to learn about new advances in technology and cover things that you wouldn’t necessarily come across at work.
I work as part of the College Information Services (CIS) team and am the main developer for the applications system. I also have a ‘maintenance day’ once a week, where I cover all emails that come into the office and deal with a wide range of queries from all areas of the college.
I find studying for my qualification fits in well alongside my work. My NVQ assessor visits me once a month, and uses the work I’m doing as evidence for my course. And, on Fridays, I attend lectures for my Foundation Degree in Computing.
When I first started on the apprenticeship I wasn’t expecting to have the amount of freedom that I have. I started off shadowing people, but now I have my own areas that I’m responsible for and manage my own workload. From an employer’s point of view I think there are many benefits of having an apprentice, as you get to build someone up from a base of little or no knowledge. They come with no preconceptions, so you can shape them to fit your particular business and the way you like to work.
In the future I’d definitely like to pursue a career in web design. I like the fact that it gives you the opportunity to combine creativity with the problem-solving that comes with computer programming. The industry is moving rapidly at the moment, with a high demand from businesses for mobile apps, mobile-friendly websites and social media content. I can’t see this slowing down any time soon, so it’s a good time to be in this profession.
Eventually I’d like to move away, to experience either working in a city or even abroad, perhaps working for a marketing or advertising agency as a web designer. I’d also like to do more studying and am already considering doing a final year through the Open University to top up my foundation degree into a full honours degree.”
Marcus is on a Level 2 apprenticeship in Site Carpentry at our Mid Devon Campus
Extended Diploma in Site Carpentry Level 2 (apprenticeship)
Mid Devon Campus
Employer: Mark Fisher Carpenters Ltd
“I grew up helping my dad, who is a carpenter, and always really enjoyed it, so studying carpentry at college just seemed like the obvious choice after I completed my GCSEs. I am currently on a Level 2 apprenticeship, working for my dad – Mark Fisher Carpenters Ltd, based in Tiverton.
I really like the fact that every day is different, depending on what projects my dad is currently working on. At the moment we’re doing a barn conversion, installing the timber frame and fitting the windows, doors, skirting and architrave.
This is a very practical course, as you would expect, which really suits me, as I’ve always learnt better doing hands-on work, rather than in an academic environment.
I feel like I’ve got a good balance by doing an apprenticeship, as there are some things which I learn at college which I don’t have the opportunity to do at work, and vice versa. This gives me a much more varied skills set than if I was just in the workplace or just on a college course. An apprenticeship gives you a lot of options, as you have the skills to either go and work for someone else, do contract work or even set up your own business.
After I complete this study programme I’ll be moving onto the Level 3. The plan is to stay with my dad and then maybe one day become a partner in his business. The industry definitely seems to be picking up at the moment, and there seems to be a lot of upcoming work on new builds and restorations, so I’m excited for the future.”
Coby is on a Level 2 Plumbing Apprenticeship at our Mid Devon Campus
Level 2 Plumbing Apprenticeship
Former school: Tiverton High School
Why did you choose to study plumbing?
I have always been good with my hands and enjoyed the more practical subjects at school. A friend of mine was a plumber and recommended the course to me. Petroc is just down the road so I joined the Level 1 course.
What are your plans for the future?
I want to complete my Level 2, move to the Level 3 and complete the gas safe to become a fully qualified plumber. Eventually, I would like to set up on my own.
What are the advantages of an apprenticeship?
Getting paid to learn what you love. Doing different things at work every day.
Tim is currently on a Level 2 Apprenticeship in Painting and Decorating
Level 2 Apprenticeship in Painting and Decorating
“Originally I started at Petroc on a plumbing course, but this didn’t really work out and I found myself looking for other options. I knew I wanted to stay in the construction sector, so applied for a painting and decorating apprenticeship with Alec and Sue from Perfect Finish.
Right from the start they’ve been really supportive, and always let me get involved in whatever they’re doing, so I get lots of varied, practical experience.
As well as having good hand-eye coordination, you also need a number of other skills to be a successful painter and decorator, such as being good with customers, reliable, willing to work long hours and, sometimes, get up very early in the morning. It’s also a very physically demanding job, so you have to have a good level of fitness.
I enjoy both the theory as well as the practical. I make sure I ask lots of questions in class, as I find I learn a lot more if I’m getting involved and not just sitting there listening; I probably drive the people in my class mad, but I want to make sure I get as much out of the lesson as possible. So far it’s paying off, as I’ve got distinctions in nearly all of my modules this year.
Also, I competed in the South West regional heat for CITB’s Skillbuild competition and came second, which I was really pleased about. It was a tough day, with an early start, and we were only given the drawings on the day and then had to plan out our design and decide what order to do everything in, to ensure we finished on time. Luckily I’m pretty organised, so coped well with this, but there were a few people who struggled and didn’t finish.
Next year I’ll be progressing onto the second year of my course, which I’m already looking forward to. I hope to stay with Perfect Finish for a long time and maybe, one day, I’ll have the opportunity to take on the business or start my own.
This profession isn’t for everyone; you’re dependent on the weather so when it’s good you have to work extremely hard to make up for all the days when it’s raining and you can only do interior work. However, if you’re committed to what you do and build a good reputation for yourself you’ll always find work.”
Lewis is on a Level 3 apprenticeship with Actavis (through the South West Apprenticeship Company)
Engineering Advance Apprenticeship Level 3 – North Devon
Employer: Actavis (through the South West Apprenticeship Company)
“I started at Petroc on an A Level programme, but I knew I didn’t want to go to university so, instead, started working full time when I finished.
However, I couldn’t see any career advances in my job, so decided to return to college to get some more qualifications. I’d already got used to working and getting paid, though, so wanted a way of combining both study and employment. This is why I chose an apprenticeship.
I chose engineering because I’d studied it for two years at school and really enjoyed it. Plus, there are lots of different avenues you can take within the industry.
As well as getting paid, I like the fact that, with an apprenticeship, you have the opportunity to put the skills you’ve learn in the classroom into practice immediately. Also, an apprenticeship gives you the chance to get used to working with people and how teams operate; a vital skills in the workplace.
From an employer’s point of view, they benefit from having an employee that they can shape to fit their business.
My goal is to get fully qualified and then move into management or project work. Like I said, there are lots of opportunities in this industry, so I’ll just see where my career takes me.
I’ve learnt quite a lot from the path I’ve taken through education. If I was to advise someone similar to me, who doesn’t necessarily want to follow the A Levels/university route, I’d say definitely consider an apprenticeship. You get real-life work experience and build contacts to help you find employment. In many ways I’d say that, because of this, apprentices have a head start over people who spend years and years studying before looking for a job.”
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