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Apprenticeships – an alternative insider view

Three years on from his apprenticeship with BMet’s sales team, Joel is now an employer contact centre officer at the college.

Here he shares some of his experiences to date and gives advice to employers on why they should bring apprentices into their businesses.

First contact

If a company phones or emails the college to find out how they can hire an apprentice or they need information on spending their levy funding then I’m the first person they come to. 

I often tell people I was an apprentice myself.  People like knowing this.  It gives them a chance to ask questions about why I chose this route and how well it worked out for me.  It‘s important to have these two-way conversations.  It means the employer knows they are doing the right thing and that we as a college are going to find them the best possible candidates.

I had no idea what I wanted to do when I left college

At the time, I was the kind of person that needed someone to push me into getting a job done.  I did some research and realised that by being in a role where I had set things to do and was being trained, I’d be starting my career just as a university graduate would.

It’s not just an apprenticeship journey

There are other end goals too.  Picking up the phone and speaking to someone was a big deal for me when I first started my apprenticeship.  I put it off for ages because I wasn’t sure who would be on the other end of the line and what they would be asking.  And I was nervous about everyone in the office hearing every word I said.

Then one day I did it and it was easy.  I realised it was okay to put people on hold to find out information I didn’t know and then pass this on.  I learned more and more along the way, just like you’re supposed to.

The rewards

I take so many positives from my role.  I gained a Level 3 qualification (equivalent to two A levels) at the same time as doing a full-time job.  This isn’t as easy to do as some people might think. 

Spending one day a week in class with other apprentices was good too.  You got to hear other people’s job experiences and talk about your own.  It’s another way to learn.

The best thing about my job now is finding out that an employer looking for an apprentice has chosen someone or that a jobseeker has been offered a role.  It’s a good feeling when you know you’ve helped make this happen.

You don’t have to know it all straight away

It’s normal for some apprentices to be nervous when they first start their job but they shouldn’t be.  Your employer isn’t going to expect you to know everything straightaway or be able to do everything all at once.

You will pick things up as you go along.  As time goes on, you’ll see a difference in how you approach things, just like I did.

Spreading the word

The college hosts a lot of Open Events and school visits so there are opportunities for me to tell people more about how an apprenticeship works.  It’s important that students and parents see that an apprenticeship is a better option for some than going to uni and getting into debt.  And that an apprenticeship can still get you to uni.

From my experience and what I know about the experiences of others, no-one ever regrets having done an apprenticeship.

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