How My Apprenticeship Kick-started My Career (louie)
5 months ago

I started my apprenticeship straight out of school, at the age of 16. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, but I knew that college or sixth form wasn’t for me, due to my learning style. I also knew that I wanted to get into work as soon as possible. I spoke with my schools’ careers advisor, and this is where I discovered apprenticeships, and the opportunities these would open for me.

I applied for around 6 apprenticeships in and around my local area, and eventually got an interview for a local head office of a global pump manufacturer. It was for a Facilities Apprentice, studying towards the Business Administration Level 3 standard. I was lucky enough to be offered the job 3 hours later!

I worked for the business for just over a year and learnt some important skills for working in a corporate workplace. But then made a ‘career decision’ where I decided to move business to focus more on Health and Safety, which I had been exposed to during this apprenticeship. I was lucky enough to be able to transfer my apprenticeship and joined the VolkerFitzpatrick team, working on the ALIGN JV HS2 project as a Health, Safety and Wellbeing Apprentice.

As well as my apprenticeship course, I self-funded a health and safety level 3 qualification, to help with my future progression. I have already experienced how much this has helped me in my career so far – self investment is a great investment!

I finished my apprenticeship with VolkerFitzpatrick (ALIGN), and I was kept on and offered a new apprenticeship course, focusing on Project Management. At first, I accepted this exciting opportunity. However, I quickly realised that Health and Safety was my passion, and I was later offered a new role with a new company closer to my home location.

Throughout my interview for my current role with The British Pipeline Agency or ‘BPA’ (a JV between BP and Shell), the recruiting manger took a keen interest in the skills I had learnt as an apprentice, both at my first apprenticeship company and later ALIGN. They were particularly interested in the ‘hands on’ skills I had developed while being an apprentice, as well as the qualifications I earned while working full time on a large-scale construction project.

I have now been with BPA for just over two years and have been actively able to implement the skills I developed, and the situational experiences I had while being an apprentice into my day job. I have been able to deliver high level reports and presentations to the business leadership team, which is something I wouldn’t have been able to do if I had just left university … where would I have even started!?

However, by doing an apprenticeship, it hasn’t meant that I haven’t been able to go to university. In fact, I am currently studying for a master’s in occupational health and safety management with the University of Portsmouth, alongside my job at BPA – what’s better … my employer is sponsoring the course, so I don’t have any student debts. Without doing my apprenticeship, and building my qualifications alongside my apprenticeship job, I wouldn’t have been in this fortunate position, in a company like BPA.

As an apprentice, I experienced challenges (as would anyone going into an unfamiliar role), but I quickly found that people respected me regardless of my age or experience, and a lot of the time I was giving the ‘seasoned’ staff a run for their money! A lot of people (including me to start) have a perception that apprentices are there to be seen but not heard – this couldn’t be further from the truth. I made sure that I said something in every meeting I attended, even if it was a bit ‘scary’. This really helped me grow my confidence, and to gain the respect of my fellow colleagues (and make some great industry connections which I still utilise today!).

I couldn’t recommend apprenticeships enough to young people (or older) looking to start a new career, especially in ‘hands on professions’ such as Health and Safety. The experiences you will get as an apprentice really will get you up for a strong and prosperous career.

If you have any questions about my career in Health and Safety, or the route I took, please feel free to reach out to me on LinkedIn (Louie Jones CertIOSH).

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