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Dan is on a Built Environment Advanced Apprenticeship (distance learning) and works at Lilly Lewarne in Truro
Built Environment Advanced Apprenticeship
Employer: Lilly Lewarne Practice – Chartered Architects
Job title: Trainee Architectural Technician
What were you doing before you started the apprenticeship?
Before this apprenticeship, I completed a Level 2 Diploma in Business Administration, working as a reception worker for the company. My duties were mainly to complete administrative tasks and answer the phone.
What are your main tasks at work?
I am now training as an architectural technician, and assume the role of one. This means that I am completing planning applications and even completing Building Regulations Packages for clients. I am using many programmes for drafting, such as AutoCad and REVIT.
Why did you choose an apprenticeship route?
We felt as a collective that it would be better for me to complete an apprenticeship, as this gave me the best way to learn. I have on-the-job experience, dealing with real clients and completing real work alongside completing the knowledge-based activity that the college work provides. All in all we felt that this is the most efficient way for me and the company.
What do you see as the benefits of doing an apprenticeship?
The ability to have the opportunity in a real working environment. This route benefits by giving experience and, in my opinion, a more practical way of learning. For students such as myself, I learn more in a more practical way than I do in a theory way.
What do you think the benefits are from an employer’s point of view?
The employer gets to see your progression. This is vital so that the employer is happy with the direction everything is heading. The employer will also be able to have input to the education, assisting as much as possible and tailoring the experience accordingly. As well as the learning benefits, the company will also gain a member of the workforce that can contribute whilst learning.
How are you finding the distance learning?
Distance learning is a difficult thing to do; it takes a lot of self-discipline to complete the work asked for and the support is not available in the same way that it is in a classroom. Planning of work is vital and regular contact is a must. The balance between college work and working for the company is hard to find and fitting everything in can promote itself as quite the challenge. However, I get plenty of support from the tutors and when I require assistance I get it.
What is the long-term plan? Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?
My future plan is to continue down the architectural route and become a CIAT registered technician. Once I have done that I will look at my options and possibly take the route of becoming a CIAT registered technologist.
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.”
Danielle is studying a Level 1 Diploma in Painting and Decorating at the North Devon Campus
Level 1 Diploma in Painting and Decorating
“I’ve always been a very arty person, so knew I would end up doing something creative as a career. My mum’s partner is a painter and decorator, and this is where the idea came from. I’ve always learnt better doing hands-on, practical work so I knew this type of course would suit me.
During the year I’ve had the opportunity to take part in a number of regional competitions, to gain more experience and test my skills under pressure. With each competition we weren’t given the drawings until on the day, and we then had to mark it all out on a board and decide what order to do things in to get everything completed on time. We had to demonstrate a range of skills that we’ve learnt on our course, including stencilling and using sponges to create different textures and effects. Although I didn’t win, I was really pleased with my performance in the competitions and in each one the judges said the standard was very high. Doing the competitions has built my confidence and given me skills and experience that I can apply to my work.
I currently work for Richard Ryan, a painter and decorator based in Braunton, and he has already offered to take me on full time when I finish my course. He does work in Cyprus, so I’m hoping I’ll have the opportunity to travel, which will be exciting. In the future, once I’ve gained a lot more experience, I can see myself running my own business.”
Adam is on a Level 2 Plumbing and Heating Apprenticeship
Plumbing and Heating Apprenticeship Level 2
Employer: Barton Plumbing and Heating, Tiverton
“At school I was never particularly academic, so I knew I wanted to do a course at college where I’d be doing a lot of hands-on learning.
I’d heard that there is money to be made in the trades, if you’re prepared to work hard and put in the hours. I’ve always considered myself a hard worker, so I started looking into the possibility of doing an apprenticeship.
I‘d also heard that there was a lot of plumbing work in the area, so I asked around many different employers. However, they all said they weren’t taking on apprentices at the moment.
Petroc knew I was looking for an apprenticeship and not long after this an employer contacted the college to say they were looking for an apprentice, and then the college contacted me.
I’m so glad I chose the apprenticeship route. The fact you get paid and you learn is a win-win situation.
And, from an employer’s perspective, they get to teach you exactly what it is their clients need and expect and shape you to fit their business.
As well as learning on the job, I also spend a day at college. The facilities in the new Future Technologies Centre are fantastic. There’s always plenty of room to work and I’ve never gone to get something and it not be there; it’s well stocked with all the latest equipment.
When I complete the Level 2 I will go straight onto the Level 3 apprenticeship. Then I’d like to start specialising and will look into additional courses.
Although I’m happy working as an employee at the moment, eventually I can 100% imagine running my own business and maybe even taking on an apprentice of my own one day.”
Jack studied the Plumbing and Heating Advanced Apprenticeship (Gas) Level 3 and went on to win the UK Copper Board National Apprentice of the Year competition.
"After I returned from travelling, I was out of work and was willing to give anything a go to earn some money.
A local plumber, and a friend of mine, offered me a job as a labourer at his firm in Ashwater. At the time I just thought ‘I’ll wing it’, expecting to move onto something else after a year or so.
However, I grew to really love the job and also realised that I was actually quite good at learning on the job and picking things up quickly. Shortly after joining, my employer offered me an apprenticeship. I had already studied A Levels at Petroc, so it seemed like a natural choice to also do my apprenticeship through the college.
After that, everything just fell into place. I realised that I could make a career out of this if I wanted, and successfully became a certified plumber after completing the Level 2 qualification, and went on to win the UK Copper Board National Apprentice of the Year competition.
I’m currently on the Level 3 apprenticeship, to become a gas engineer. This will open up more opportunities for me, as I’ll be more skilled and therefore more employable. Ultimately, this will hopefully mean I can earn a higher wage when I complete my course.
Eventually I can see myself doing the Level 4, which is a degree-level qualification. However, this is something most people do after they have been working in the industry for a while and have gained lots of experience, so it’ll be something to consider down the line. For now I’ll continue working for my current employer, as he’s been so supportive and is always opening up opportunities for me to try new things and increase my skills. I am now involved in pricing and invoicing for jobs, as well as shadowing on more complex projects, which are all skills that’ll set me in good stead for the future.
I’d recommend an apprenticeship to anyone, as it’s a great way of gaining hands-on, real world experiences, all whilst getting paid. As a result of winning the national competition I’ve given several talks to students about the benefits of doing an apprenticeship, and everyone I’ve spoken to says they find hands-on, practical work a far more enjoyable way of learning."
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