Why apprenticeships work for young people and businesses – by those in the know

Tees Business Digital Media Pack

Earn while you learn, get a head start and become a team player. These are just three reasons why some of the region’s brightest young talents say they chose combine studies with invaluable on-the-job training via an apprenticeship.

To mark National Apprenticeship Week, the latest Tees Business Leaders online Q&A featured apprentices from local businesses PD Ports, Jacksons Law Firm and Tees Components.

PD Ports apprentice estates surveyor Jacob Moat was joined by Ellis Miller, an apprentice administrator with Stockton-based Jacksons Law Firm and Nieve Williams, a mechanical engineering apprentice with North Skelton’s Tees Components.

“Going into work full-time is a huge change from college, but I’m loving it and I’m so glad I chose the apprenticeship route,” said Jacob, a degree apprentice within PD Ports’ property department.

The 20-year-old from Billingham has worked in PD’s property department for just over a year and also studies real estate part-time at Northumbria University.

“My aim is to become a credited chartered surveyor and I can’t thank PD Ports enough for all they have done for me so far. They’re there to ensure I reach my career goals.

“I’m very passionate about what I’m doing. I love my job and applying my learning from university to my workplace and vice versa. It’s a win-win for me.”

Ellis, 22, from Hartlepool, a level 3 business administration apprentice with Jacksons Law Firm, said: “I was going to go to university to study law but changed my mind a few weeks before. Uni just felt wrong for me, so I stepped back, started looking around and found an apprenticeship with Jacksons.

“I have the best of both worlds now. I’m learning and earning at work and gaining qualifications via my studies which I fit in throughout the week.

“Apprenticeships may be seen by some as unambitious, but that’s totally not the case. They give you a rounded foundation and are an equally good option which can open doors and move your career forward.”

Also joining the Tees Business Leaders Q&A with host Dave Allan was Nieve Williams, a level 2 mechanical engineering apprentice from New Marske who also studies level 3 manufacturing at Middlesbrough College one day a week.

The 18-year-old is the only female among seven apprentices at North Skelton-based Tees Components.

“I took engineering at school and was really good at it,” said Nieve. “When I left at 16, I actively sought out an apprenticeship but was told I probably wouldn’t get one in engineering. Someone I knew was an apprentice at Tees Components and told me to try there.

“Finding out that my boss, Sharon Lane, started as an apprentice herself was great – she’s a fantastic role model.

“I couldn’t be happier with what I’m doing – I’ve found my career niche and want to do it for the rest of my life.”

With these three young people gaining invaluable confidence and experience ahead of their counterparts in further education, they could potentially be the next generation of Tees business leaders to come up through the apprenticeships route, and all are keen advocates of the scheme.

“If you don’t care much for theory but love the idea of learning on the job you will love an apprenticeship,” said Ellis. “Apprenticeships have been lowered in some people’s eyes and expectations, so we need to shout about our success stories.”

Jacob commented: “I can’t stress enough to just go for it. I could have done the uni or the apprenticeship route but apprenticeship was the way to go for me. It’s been an experience to be in a team and to be supported. To have first-hand experience allows you to stand out from the crowd.”

Nieve added: “You’ll never know unless you try. If an apprenticeship doesn’t work out then you can still go to uni but, for me, this path has helped me to be ready for work and has given me such confidence. Theory studies are great for having some idea of what to do, but t’s not the same as being on the shop floor.”

Employers too could benefit from having such focused and enthusiastic young people in their ranks, agreed all three apprentices.

“You are investing in the future,” said Ellis. “A lot of businesses don’t have a new wave of people coming in when staff retire, so this is a great way of moulding employees from the start.”

Jacob agreed: “Giving a young, enthusiastic person a chance is ethically a great thing to do for society and it’s future-proofing business. Certainly, my apprenticeship has had a great positive impact on my life.”

• Tees Business Leaders is a Tees Business feature in partnership with PD Ports, one of the Tees region’s largest employers that last year launch the most ambitious recruitment drive in the UK ports sector, aiming to recruit 50 new apprentices.