Apprenticeships offer a pathway into industries for school leavers, graduates and those looking to change careers, as demonstrated by the following case studies from energy supplier E.ON.
The former beautician
Amy Harris worked in a beauty salon before becoming an apprentice wind farm technician working at E.ON’s Humber Gateway Offshore Wind Farm. She explains what her role involves and the opportunities it presents:
“A few of my family and friends worked in energy or utilities and I’d always found it really interesting when talking to them about it and the opportunities available in the sector so I made the decision to change my career completely.
“As part of my apprenticeship, I’m currently completing a placement in the control room at E.ON’s Humber Gateway offshore wind farm, as a marine co-ordinator. I’m responsible for technicians’ safety at sea by maintaining contact and making sure there are no restrictions or safety concerns logged on the turbine they’re working on.
“Communication and organisational skills are hugely important in the role, so as well as developing my technical knowledge I’m also able to develop these skills too which I know will benefit me in whatever career option I decide in the future.
“During my apprenticeship I’ve also had the opportunity to gain other qualifications; so far, I’ve completed training courses in areas such as sea survival, working at height and wind turbine safety rules.
“Working on a wind farm is very exciting as no two days are the same and there is a great sense of community. Life on the wind farm is very different to working in a beauty salon! However, I’m thoroughly enjoying my new career and I’m so pleased I made the decision to change to something I feel so passionately about.”
I’ve completed training courses in areas such as sea survival, working at height and wind turbine
The first-class graduate
Matthew Zeller, 22, from Newton Hall in Durham, achieved a first-class honours degree in computer animation and special FX, before embarking on his apprenticeship at E.ON. He is now a smart meter technician, installing smart meters to give customers greater control over their energy consumption and explains his motivations and experience so far.
“Having completed my studies at school and college, I wanted to go to university. I worked hard to achieve a first-class degree, and once I graduated, started looking for jobs and saw that E.ON was recruiting for smart metering apprentices.
“I’d already completed an apprenticeship at college but that was predominately classroom-based learning and was unpaid. The idea of earning while I learned, both in the classroom and on the job, really appealed to me and I was pleased to be offered an apprenticeship role with E.ON.
“I’ve learned a lot in a short space of time and I’ve really embraced the challenge. I would recommend an apprenticeship to anyone, no matter what their background may be. Now I’ve graduated and I’m a full-time smart metering technician, I want to work towards becoming a technical specialist and perhaps a field team leader at E.ON.”
I would recommend an apprenticeship to anyone, no matter what their background may be
The school leaver
After leaving school, Michael Charlton, 25, from Silksworth in Sunderland, worked in a factory before looking into apprenticeship options. Like university gratduate, Matthew Zeller (above), he now works for E.On as smart metering technician.
“I worked in a factory after completing my GCSEs but decided that it wasn’t for me. I wanted to learn new skills and, after doing some research, an apprenticeship seemed to be a great option for me, especially as you could earn while you learn.
“The whole experience has been something that I’d recommend to anyone either leaving school or looking for a change of career. The apprenticeship has been challenging but I’ve learned so many new skills, met a lot of people I can call friends and the mentors at E.ON have really supported me along the way.
“Graduating has marked a huge milestone for me and has been a great opportunity to celebrate all the hard work and effort that I’ve put in over the last year. I’m now a full-time technician and I get to visit customers’ homes in the north east to install and help them use their smart meters. It’s a job that I’m really enjoying and I hope to continue to progress and build on the skills I’ve already learned.”
I worked in a factory after completing my GCSEs but decided that it wasn’t for me
Ben Mitchelmore, 34, from Whitchurch in the West Midlands, served in the army for eight years before starting an apprenticeship at E.ON.
“I specialised in communications while in the army and after making the decision to leave, I chose to build on the experience I’d already gained and learn new skills through an apprenticeship with E.ON.
“I was 32 when I left the army and started my apprenticeship, so not the typical age people usually associate with an apprentice. However, I’ve certainly met people of all ages and backgrounds undertaking an E.ON apprenticeship and the whole experience has been something that I would recommend to anyone either leaving school or those looking for a change of career, like me.
“This apprenticeship has given me the opportunity to earn while I learn, while working towards future career opportunities in an industry that’s continually growing in terms of innovation and technology.”
I was 32 when I left the army and started my apprenticeship, so not the typical age people usually associate with an apprentice