My name is Vicky; I am a parent of two sons. One of my sons is 17 and left school in 2021.
The past few years have been very difficult for our children and I know we personally struggled to forward plan for the next steps after leaving school. COVID restrictions meant that my son and I were unable to attend face-to-face open days at college and he was not able to undertake work experience. He’s always enjoyed hands-on learning, rather than academic studies, and was clear that he did not think A-levels were the route for him. He felt a vocational qualification would suit his learning style better, he did not want to continue with full-time classroom learning. We spoke to our local colleges and did our research around Level 3 qualifications, these included BTECs and T-Levels.
My son enjoyed both sports and construction, these were both careers he thought he would like to potentially pursue. Once his exams were completed and he had officially left school, we found him some work experience with a local builder. He really enjoyed this and this confirmed that it was something he would like to do.
Our next step was to decide what qualification in construction would suit him. Our local college did offer a T-Level in Construction at Level 3, but my son felt that the qualification was too management-focused for him. He wanted to learn the trade before the management side. However, he didn’t want to rule the management side out altogether, he just felt that was something for further down the line in his career. The other option was a full-time construction course, but he really wanted to start to earn some money and gain real hands-on experience in the field rather than in a workshop. Eventually, we came to the decision that an Apprenticeship in Construction and more specifically Joinery was what he wanted to do.
A large housing company was advertising a position for a Joiner Apprentice. We found this by putting a post on social media, asking if anyone knew of any Joinery Apprenticeship vacancies, someone then sent us a link to one. To apply we had to submit a CV, and for someone at 16 who had just left school, he didn’t feel like he had much to write about. However, we listed all his extra-curricular activities, his transferable skills, hobbies, and interests. This did the job because he got an interview! Again, for someone at 16, this was a daunting experience too. But together we prepped for it. We listed all the questions we felt they may ask and role-played the interview. He found this embarrassing but knew it needed to be done! We also researched the company and on the day he dressed very smartly. My son secured the Apprenticeship and the employer had already selected a provider to deliver the qualification, luckily this was our local college.
He’s now 5 months into his Apprenticeship and is really enjoying it, the employer has been great with him and provided him with a very in-depth induction and internal training. He attends college one day per week where he is in the Joinery workshop, for the other four days he is at his employer with his supervisor learning on the job. He collects evidence of the work he is doing and uploads this so his assessor can see what he is doing. The Apprenticeship will take two years to complete, and he hopes if he passes and his employer is pleased with him he will secure permanent employment at the end. He will also explore the option of studying at a higher level because the Apprenticeship structure allows for this progression.
My top tips for other parents/carers are:
• Listen to what your child enjoys and what they are good at.
• Explore if they can study these subjects/vocations and research progression opportunities once they have achieved them.
• Although initially, I wanted my son to study at Level 3 because I felt a Level 2 was a-side way step (having already achieved GCSE’s and L2 BTEC at school), I listened to his views and I could see a Level 2 in Joinery was the right decision because he had no qualifications or experience in this field.
• If you feel an Apprenticeship is a route for your child, look at the below websites:
• Have a CV ready, list any jobs such as babysitting, being a prefect at school.
• Remember, Apprenticeships are competitive- your child is applying for employment so they need to be prepared. Dress smart, research the company, ask questions. However, the employers will also be aware that they have limited experience having not since left school.
Article by Vicky, GM Higher Hub Manager, Oldham, Stockport & Tameside.