For National Apprenticeships Week I thought that I would share my own experience of what it was like to be an apprentice, why I applied for an apprenticeship and the reason why I would recommend the experience to others.
After leaving university with a Higher National Certificate, I entered the world of work with no previous employment experience. At the time, youth unemployment was high especially living in the South Wales valleys and I went from being in full time education to applying for job seekers allowance. This was quite a low point in my life because after years of education I was ready to enter the working world but it felt as if the world of work didn’t want me. I had high ambitions of starting a career path and to follow in the footsteps of my family members of having a long career, yet it felt like I had come to a stop before even starting. Applications to numerous positions came back with the same result of not having enough experience for me to even be considered.
As time went on, I did manage to gain employment experience on temporary and zero hour contracts with a few companies, also offering myself to work experience and volunteering positions but unfortunately these were not full time or permanent. Feeling disheartened I found myself on job seekers allowance again and I came across the Jobs Growth Wales programme that was being run by the Welsh Government. The programme invited employers to start apprenticeships with funding provided. This is how I came across and applied for the apprenticeship with Community Union.
Community offered a position for an apprentice administrator while achieving a NVQ level 3 in business administration. Looking at my strengths I knew I could happily work in administration, I was definitely suited to an office career but with little experience, the apprenticeship could provide me with the key skills and experience I needed. Being born and raised in the South Wales valleys with strong Labour values and with 3 generations of my family working in the steel industry, working for a trade union felt like it was meant to be.
During my 2 year apprenticeship, I have gained so much knowledge and experience while achieving an NVQ in Business Administration. Different to the education system, this offered a hands on practical approach enabling me to get real experience of the workplace and hone my skills there. During my apprenticeship I dealt directly with the public and received unlimited learning from colleagues which I still benefit from even to this day. Without the apprenticeship, I feel that I would not have had the skills or knowledge of working for a trade union or even that of working within a busy office environment. That’s why I would recommend the experience to anyone looking to get themselves experience and a step in the right direction of their career path – it opened new opportunities up for me and I’m sure it would for others too.
Megan Edwards is Assistant Organiser in Community’s Welsh region.