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'Apprenticeships work for us!'
THE coming week marks the sixth annual National Apprenticeship Week, which celebrates apprenticeships and the positive impact they have on individuals, businesses and the economy.
At Basingstoke College of Technology (BCoT), the route of apprenticeships is increasingly becoming a popular choice among school leavers, those looking for a change in career, or as an alternative to going to university.
Robert Durham, from Riverdene, Basingstoke, is studying at BCoT for a mechanical engineering apprenticeship with Gillette in Reading. The 19-year-old spends one day a week at the college in Worting Road, and four days at work.
He said: “I went to Costello and Queen Mary’s College but I was getting bored and thought ‘do I want another four years of this at college and university and come out without a job and in debt?’
“I wanted to keep learning and not just go into work so an apprenticeship seemed like a good option.”
He added: “I enjoy the mixture of hands-on and using your mind.”
His advice to others considering an apprenticeship is: “Find something that suits you and that you enjoy doing. I love what I do. It means getting up at 6am but I enjoy it and enjoy being at work. Joy doesn’t come from success but success comes from joy.”
Maria Butler decided to go back to college at 44-years-old to take an apprenticeship in plumbing and heating with Tadley Bathrooms.
The mother-of-two, from Tadley, used to be a receptionist but decided upon a career change and now divides her time between studying at BCoT, working and being a mum.
She said: “In the workplace, you have to work a bit harder as a woman to prove you are not there on a whim and that you do want to do it. When I started working, people thought 'what's she doing? She's a bored housewife' but that's not the case and now we all get on really well and they respect what I'm there for.”
She added: “You are never too old to retrain. I feel proud of myself for doing it. It gives you a sense of worth.”
Shannon Sawyer is employed by BCoT as an apprentice and is also studying level two business and administration.
The 18-year-old, from Odiham, works on the reception at BCoT after spending several years at the college studying different courses.
She said: “It's more independent because I can work and do the coursework in my free time and I can earn my own money and not have to rely on anyone else. It's hard work but it was one of the best choices I have made. The work is different and it's not a set routine.”
Stephen Smith, business marketing officer at BCoT, said apprenticeships are “a fantastic way to start on the road to a career.”
He added: “It's another option for those who prefer to be out there working and earning money but still continuing with their education.”
He said the minimum wage an apprentice can expect to earn is £2.65 an hour, but the average is around £170 a week.