Heating and Plumbing Apprenticeship
Campus Services at the University of Exeter
I loved school, but I didn’t really fancy spending more time at college in a classroom. I didn’t have a career plan when I first left school, I just wanted to do some travelling and have fun. Now that I’m working at the University of Exeter I’m aspiring to be someone like Alan (my line manager), and that’s where I’d like to be in my career.
Before I became an apprentice it was hard. I was emailing people every day asking for apprenticeship possibilities. In a conversation with my dad I said that I wanted to be more hands on with whatever I do, and so we went through some options such as plumbing, carpentry, etc. I thought that working with gas and electrics sounded good, so I went along to a college open evening, and they said I could do a level 1 plumbing course, and that once the first course is completed I could decide which route I could take.
Initially I was very nervous and did not know what to expect. However, the college made me feel very welcome and very at home. I completed a full time level 1 plumbing and heating apprenticeship, then I went on to do a level 2 plumbing and heating apprenticeship for 2 years. Now I’m doing a level 3 plumbing and heating apprenticeship, which is a further 2 years. Whilst at the college we have a lot of classroom work, and then we have a workshop and an exam at the end of the year.
I was part of a group of six students who went to the University on work experience. Out of the group I was told that I showed the greatest potential and had a fantastic attitude and aptitude, and was requested to come back in the summer for six weeks. From this the University Direct works team decided that I would be a fantastic addition to the team. I’m really happy that I chose this as a career route as opposed to going to university, it’s nice to have some stability in my job at the moment which would have been different had I chosen to go to university.
The University of Exeter apprenticeship scheme for commercial gas is probably one of the most unique in the country, just with the sheer scope of applications, the fact that we’ve ran our own £10 million gas network, we support and manage fixed gas systems for research buildings, gas safety systems, pneumatics, etc. I’m confident that there’s not another university in the country that can offer such a broad scope as Exeter does.
The apprenticeship has absolutely helped me progress my career. If I hadn’t have come here to do work experience I would still be looking for an apprenticeship now, no doubt. Doing an apprenticeship gives you more opportunities once you’re qualified. Even if you don’t stay in that company you can go to other people and can say that you’ve got considerable experience. You get a lot of experience as an apprentice.