Name: Alex Balden
Course: Electrical Installation Apprenticeship Level 2
After looking at his post-16 options. Alex found himself leaning towards an Apprenticeship as a way of harnessing his skills and interest in practical learning and continuing his education.
Originally from Middlesbrough, Alex began his search locally looking for Apprenticeships in some kind of trade, on the advice of family members who had taken the same route for generations before. With local opportunities lacking in the areas he wanted, Alex made the decision to relocate to Hertfordshire, sourcing an Apprenticeship in Electrical Installation at a firm his father works for in St Albans – a big move for someone of such a young age.
He said: Once you have skills in a particular trade, you have a job for life and no matter what path life takes you, you’ll always have it to go back to. When you leave school and don’t know what you want to do, an Apprenticeship is a good way to learn your trade and earn a wage at the same time. This way I’ll have money, a qualification and three year’s site experience when I come to the end of it. Any employer will see that as a great advantage.”
Alex also says the networks he has created around talking to different people on the jobs he works on by being on site has boosted his confidence in his abilities, and also opened up his mind to the value of making good contacts and a good impression on people who may bring further opportunities in the future.
“A lot of my friends were very surprised at me moving away from home, and it’s weird when our mates are back from University for nights out and holidays, we realise what different lives we lead. But in a few years, it will be worth it – it’s about seeing the bigger picture.
“A lot of our friends are studying full time and although now it feels like they have more free time and fun, they’ll be ending their studies in their early twenties still unsure about work – in exactly the same place I was in at sixteen.”
A usual working week will see Alex in work Monday Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday and Thursday at College. As he has progressed through the levels he reports a notable shift in College work from theoretical to practical. He adds: “It’s nice when you can bring something you’ve learnt at work into the lesson at College and vice versa. That real life application, thinking about how you would do things on site and what you’ve been taught at work makes you realise how much you have actually learnt on the job.”
Alex would recommend an Apprenticeship to anyone who like him, is practically minded and keen to earn experience. “I knew full time education wasn’t for me, and I knew that I learn best in practical tasks. That’s what brought me to an Apprenticeship but as time goes on there’s more and more I’m getting out of it in the long term.”