Apprenticeships have certainly stood the test of time. They’ve been a successful route into a career for nearly 500 years and now there are more than 600 different apprenticeship training courses available in the UK.
With the 15th annual National Apprenticeship Week taking place this week, here, three apprentices from FSP explain their experience of the apprenticeship process.
Making a difference
Apprenticeships are hugely valuable at FSP, with numerous members of the team across the entire company business hierarchy having completed apprenticeship training programmes.
Despite the clear practical opportunities for apprenticeships in the FSP manufacturing business, the organisation also looks to the training model to fulfil support roles at the growing company.
Amy Truswell is currently participating in a Health and Safety Apprenticeship programme, which has already delivered impressive results for both Amy and the business.
“I did think that University was the only real option for a successful career,” Amy said. “I started University in 2020 and realised immediately that it wasn’t for me. I ended up moving home just two weeks later and wondering what I would do next.
“Then, the opportunity for a health and safety apprenticeship at FSP was advertised, and having some experience of working with another manufacturer, I thought it was a good fit. I’d not seen anything like it before and I knew it was a good option to be able to work and study at the same time.”
Amy is studying on a two-year apprenticeship and is due to complete her studies in June 2023.
“From the moment I arrived at FSP, I knew I had the opportunity to make a real difference longer term in the business. Taking on responsibility for the health and safety processes, as well as broadening into industry compliance means there is always something new to learn or work on.
“I’ve been able to implement new processes as well as make changes that positively affect the wider FSP team – including having a defibrillator installed on site.”
Theory into practice
Elsewhere at FSP, Apprentice Fabricator-Welders Jack O’Neil and Nathan Wilcox have also found their place within the team.
Jack started college but soon realised that pursuing his childhood hobbies would be a better career path.
“As soon as I saw the apprenticeship course details and realised there was an opportunity to be really hands-on at FSP, I knew it was the right route for me,” Jack said. “I had always enjoyed doing practical projects at home, so to be able to develop more skills and get a qualification at the end, meant it was a no brainer.
“I’ve really enjoyed getting experience with industrial equipment like tig welding of specialist stainless steel products. And breaking up the week with a day at college meant I was able to bring some of the theory I had learned in the classroom straight to the workshop.”
Nathan explained his apprenticeship experience as a game changer for his career prospects.
“I had previously studied for an automotive apprenticeship, but soon realised that it was a difficult industry to get your foot onto the career ladder,” he said. “I saw the Fabricator-Welder position and thought it was a good fit for my previous skills.
“Being able to learn the technical and theory side of welding has been fascinating — my job means so much more to me now that I understand the science behind it rather than just pulling the trigger.
“I’ve learned a broad range of skills — and not just practical ones. I have been able to work in a close-knit team at FSP and work on some interesting projects along the way. I’d really like to develop my technical welding knowledge more in the years to come. Who knows where it could take me next?”
Wayne Carter, FSP Managing Director, who himself completed a Fabricator-Welder apprenticeship at FSP at the start of his career added: “Apprenticeships have been a key part of our recruitment and staff retention strategy over the years.
“Some of apprentices that we’ve welcomed to the team have stayed with us and developed their roles even further by studying towards additional industry qualifications, while three have achieved first class degrees while working with us.
“Developing and embedding this high level of skill and expertise in the business means that we can better serve our customer and proves that the conventional route to further education does not always suit everyone.”
Amy, Jack and Nathan would all urge others to consider the apprenticeship pathway to employment.
Amy said: “To have the opportunity to gain valuable work experience alongside the knowledge and learning in a classroom is a fantastic opportunity. There are so many transferable skills between the two environments, and to finish the training course with real hands-on experience is a huge asset.”
“You can’t go wrong with an apprenticeship,” Nathan added. “You’re earning, learning, and developing social skills. I’m finishing my programme with a lot more experience than I would if I had pursued either college or employment by themselves.”
So, with Amy, Jack and Nathan joining over 713,000 fellow apprentices in the 2021/22 academic year, it’s clear that apprenticeships are a worthwhile option for those looking to uncover an alternative route to a valuable career path.