|Qualification:||Level 3 Welding/Mechanical Apprenticeship|
At the age of 36 Shane didn’t think an apprenticeship was available to his age group and beyond, but then he found out apprenticeships are for individuals of all ages. Shane completed a Level 3 Welding/Mechanical Apprenticeship with IPS and has progressed his skills further with other training courses. He spoke to IPS about his Apprenticeship journey and his progression.
“Originally, I started an Apprenticeship after leaving school, but due to personal circumstances I didn’t finish the programme and during my late twenties I worked through various building trades & industrial works as an unskilled employee, I then decided I wanted to travel and after 8 years of travelling I came back and realised I needed to get some form of career.
Firstly, I tried a career in the regional newspaper industry as an advertising sales executive in London, but unfortunately soon realised that this work wasn’t for me.
With a little bit of luck and due to my mechanical abilities (built up from general car mechanics and a natural inquisitiveness on how things work) I managed to secure a position as a semi-skilled fitter on-board a small water injection dredger, but unfortunately during the “Credit Crunch” I was laid off.
I had enjoyed working on-board the dredger, getting to repair, rebuild & fabricating was very satisfying, but due to not having any qualifications, I had no chance of getting back into this type of environment. So, at the age of 36, I started looking at adult training courses, not thinking that I could get back into an Apprenticeship, due to my age. Just by chance, there was an advert for Apprenticeships at a local Job Fair and after a discussion with an ECITB (Engineering Construction Industry Training Board) representative, I was informed that they would consider putting me forward for an apprenticeship position. They had a local employer that they thought would be open to an older Apprentice, due to the nature of the work and having to work away from home.
ECITB approached Oceaneeing and they were willing to give me an interview after completing an aptitude test at IPS, from which I was taken on as an NDT (Non-Destructive Testing) Technician.
My base subject was Welding and Fabrication, which I found rewarding as this had always been a skill that I wanted to gain. I also learnt basic bench-skills and other general mechanical principles. I enjoyed being able to work with my hands, whilst improving my skills.
The practical side of my Apprenticeship came naturally to me, due to being reasonably competent at hands-on work. But to start with the theory side of the Apprenticeship was essentially like going back to school for me, what with re-learning maths, and other engineering/science-based subjects, also having to complete assignments.
I feel that I embraced the Apprenticeship system and enjoyed learning, increasing my abilities, through gaining new skills and putting that knowledge to use in the working environment.
With some support from the BTEC tutors and sheer determination, I completed a BTEC National Diploma and achieved a Distinction-Star, Distinction grade. I am proud of my achievement, it gave me more confidence with my abilities, especially because I am dyslexic, and I found the assignments a real challenge at times. The report/assignment writing has been an invaluable tool for me to learn as this has brought my confidence and general ability with the written word up to a high standard.”
Shane’s Apprenticeship experience wasn’t an easy one after being in and out of apprentice sponsorship and not being able to secure a sustained employer never the less with our help Shane managed to upskill further by gaining additional qualifications with IPS.
“Through no fault of my own, I have been in and out of a continuous Apprentice sponsorship due to ECITB not being able to secure a consistent employer. But luckily for me, IPS went out of their way to help me with a placement at one of their partners, this led to Hoganas putting me through an electrical cross skilling process with IPS. I have now completed an Electrical Maintenance Level 3 NVQ, City & Guilds 17th Edition and PAT testing courses, I also just recently finished the City & Guilds Inspection and Testing at IPS.
My Apprenticeship has given me recognised qualifications, new skills, confidence and showed me that I was more than capable of learning new skills at a slightly older age. Completing qualifications has generated new opportunities for me in my working life, instead of working as an unskilled worker, I’m now a competent multi-skilled engineer. I’m currently working for Southeastern Railway as one of their maintenance engineers.
Ideally, I would like to progress and complete a foundation degree and move into a more managerial role. I would also like to learn how to programme PLC’s and I wouldn’t hesitate about developing my skills further through IPS, especially as I feel that they push and guide you to achieve your goals.
I believe that the Apprenticeship system is an invaluable tool to aid people into skilled work, which opens doors to a more rewarding career path giving you more professional and personal opportunities in life. In some ways, I regret not completing my Apprenticeship when I was younger, but I feel that I made a better apprentice at the age of 36, due to understanding how much this opportunity could give me, at this stage of my life. I look back now and realise how far I have come and I’m proud of my journey.
IPS would like to congratulate Shane; for his achievements and wish him all the best in his progression and dream of completing a foundation degree.