The value of learning a trade on the job is being shown across the area during National Apprenticeship Week.
Increasing numbers of young people are taking the opportunity to get real experience in a variety of professions through apprenticeships.
And during National Apprenticeship Week, which began on Monday, they have been keen to tell their stories and encourage others to follow similar paths.
Jack McKillop, 24, was working as a doorman when he lent a hand to Morton-based painting and decorating firm K Goldsmith and Daughters. Company founder Ken Goldsmith was impressed by Jack’s aptitude and offered him the chance to start an apprenticeship, spending three days working and two days studying at Lincoln College.
Jack was apprehensive at first, but decided to give it a go. He is now progressing quickly and hopes to complete a two-year course in just 18 months.
“It’s hard going because you have to get all the work done, but I’m learning on the job,” said Jack, who lives in Eye, Peterborough.
“I’ve given up working as a doorman and I like what I’m doing. I like the freedom of it.”
Jack understands why some people may be put off apprenticeships because of the low starting wage. But for him it was a sign of dedication to the employer.
“You start off at a low base because the wage isn’t great,” said Jack. “But it’s a starting point to show someone commitment.
“Every three months I get reviews from the college. If I do well then Ken ups my money.”
“I um’d and ah’d because of the wage,” added Jack. “But if you work hard you can up your money quickly.”
The family-run business almost went under last year when Ken underwent a triple heart bypass. But his daughter Lucy, who had recently completed her own apprenticeship, took over the painting and decorating duties while her sister Emma ran the business side.
Ken is now back at work and the business is looking to take on more apprentices.
Emma said: “Schools are focused on getting children into university and it’s not always the only option. You’ve got to look at other routes.”
Ketton firm Hanson Cement works on a slightly larger scale than K Goldsmith and Daughters. But the company is also keen to bring apprentices on board.
A new vacancy has opened up on the firm’s leadership, education and development programme and current apprentice Elliot Wellbelove is encouraging bright young people looking for a career to apply.
Elliot, 21, from Sleaford, said: “I would highly recommend the programme to anyone looking for a job in industry. The company has involved me in the current recruitment process so it’s good to see that they are offering another place at Ketton.”
Elliot joined the programme in 2013 after gaining three good A-level grades in maths, physics and engineering. He hopes to pursue a career in engineering once his apprenticeship finished.
Elliot has worked at all three Hanson Cement sites and is currently based at the Padeswood plant in North Wales
He said: “I am the acting process engineer at the plant. It’s exactly the job I want to do. I just hope I can continue with my studies and go on to do a full degree course.”
Another Ketton apprentice, Tom Atkins, is waiting for the results of his HNC exams in electrical engineering from Peterborough University centre.
Tom, who lives in Wittering, already has a B-Tech in electrical engineering and is a qualified electrician having gained a City and Guilds qualification before joining Hanson.
Stamford and Bourne MP Nick Boles (Con) has also been promoting National Apprenticeship Week in his role as skills minister. Mr Boles has been touring the country visiting firms that offer training courses, and hasn’t been shy of sharing his “selfies” with young apprenticeships on Twitter.
Mr Boles wants more young people to take part in the Government’s traineeship programme, which prepares them for apprenticeships, employment or further learning.
More than 10,000 took up a traineeship in the first year of the programme, with a further 5,000 starting a traineeship in the first three months of the second year.
Mr Boles said: “Our plan for education is ensuring young people have the skills and knowledge to succeed in modern Britain, and traineeships are playing a vital role in this.
“We owe it to young people to ensure these traineeships are of the highest quality, which is why I’m delighted to see so many progressing to apprenticeships, employment or further learning.”
See www.apprenticeships.gov.uk for more information.