“I never planned to be a plumber, but I was working in the office for Smith and Byford and I was really interested in what the engineers did. I looked at studying part-time, but I knew I needed the practical experience too, so doing an apprenticeship made perfect sense. The course can be hard at times, but the teaching is great and my employer is really supportive. I work with a great engineer, and he encourages me to do as much as I can on our jobs and that builds my confidence as well as my skills. The facilities at Nescot are amazing, and all the teachers are really experienced. They set high standards for our work, but that’s good preparation for work. I really enjoy being a female plumber. You still get a few people who think it’s a man’s job, but I’ve never been made to feel like that at college or at work. I want to work in domestic gas at first, and then specialise in commercial in the longer-term. Plumbing is a great trade because it’s versatile, and although it’s hard work it’s really rewarding.”
Level 5 Apprenticeship in Operations Management
“I’ve only been doing my apprenticeship for a few months, but I can already see a lot of changes to my work and my behaviour. I’ve got a lot more self-confidence and self-belief, and I'm more motivated. The course is helping me to understand the business context around me, and through that knowledge I’ve already been able to start making positive changes for my team and the organisation as a whole. It’s giving me the belief in myself that I can effect change, and that’s powerful.
“The structure of the course is well thought-out, and the teaching is great. We do one lesson and one assignment per month, and we get a set of resources to work through. The tutor is great at explaining things, and she always encourages us to relate what we’re learning back to what we’re doing at work and to put it into practice straight away. It’s rewarding to be able to learn a theory, apply it, and see genuine results for my team.
“I hope my experience shows people how versatile apprenticeships are. They’re great for people at the start of a new career, but apprenticeships are just as useful for people who are already in a career and want to progress to the next level. There’s a huge range of subjects and levels, so there’s something for everyone. To anyone thinking about doing an apprenticeship, I’d say: you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.”
“I like studying Electrical because it’s a good mix of skills. You have to use your brain a lot, but it’s also a really practical job. At the moment we’re working on designing the electrics for a hotel, which is complicated. We have to plan out all the lighting and cabling and where the circuits start and end, but we also have to think about making adjustments for the swimming pool area, because of the water, and whether there’s enough electrical capacity in the kitchen for the number of hotel guests. I’m doing an apprenticeship, which I’m enjoying because I like the balance of studying and being on-site. I’d recommend Nescot to anyone, it’s a great place to learn a trade.”
Business Administration Apprentice - Level 3
Polly works at Brunswick Surgery, Surbiton, in a varied role. She is employed as a Receptionist-Administrator and has also become a qualified Phlebotomist, running her own Clinics at the Surgery. She is now training to become a Healthcare Assistant, having successfully completed her apprenticeship.
“I have a drive for self-development and was keen to work for the NHS,” she explains, “Nescot helped me find the perfect workplace for my apprenticeship.”
“The learning aspect of the role means you are constantly involved in the wider health sector. Alongside the business admin and stakeholder management aspects I was able to develop my own health sector interests and be given more and more responsibility by my employer.”
Polly plans to continue growing her broad experience in General Practice, before specialising later in her career. “At the moment, I am doing interesting and valuable work in both the patient management and clinical aspects of my role. I thank my tutor at Nescot for encouraging me to go beyond my comfort zones – in our regular progress update sessions she would give me areas to improve on and encourage a flexible, open-minded approach to the work and my learning.”
Leana Burrage, Practice manager, says the surgery has also benefitted from having a versatile apprentice like Polly on board. “Choosing an apprentice has been a huge benefit for our surgery. I would certainly do it again.”
If I could explain one thing about apprenticeships to people, it would be how varied they are. People often think of them as being second-rate, or entry-level, but these days they go up to degree-level in such a range of subjects, and they’re such as great way of getting qualifications and experience at the same time. When we take on an apprentice it’s definitely with the aim of investing in them for the long term. We have lots of engineers who started as apprentices, and some of them have their own apprentices now.
Nadine Houghton, Apprenticeship Coordinator at Pimlico
We love having apprentices, because it’s a great way of continuing to improve our collective skills and expertise. Our apprentices can learn from the expertise of our experienced colleagues, and the whole team benefits from keeping up to date on the latest early years theories and principles. We see apprenticeships as a long-term way of developing staff.
Suzanne Walsh, Operations and Nursery Manager at Nonsuch Park Forest School