A young Sheffield man is encouraging others to look into apprenticeships this National Apprenticeship Week – and said he would not be where he is today without his.
Ben Thompson beat more than 200 applicants to bag an apprenticeship at utility management company Veolia in 2010.
He is now working as a district energy engineer, developing new equipment and maintaining underground pipework as well as dealing with new clients.
The 23-year-old from Stannington had been studying for his A-Levels but decided he wanted a more hands-on approach to learning.
He said: “I was at sixth form but I wasn’t really enjoying it. I stumbled across the apprenticeship application and it seemed like something I would like to do.
“It’s a different way of getting to the same place. It does depend on the person – but it was right for me.”
Ben is completing a Higher National Certificate in engineering and said he has learned a lot during his five years of working.
“One of the benefits of being an apprenticeship is that you can earn while you learn. There are no student debts.
“I’ve learned a lot of life skills because I learn something every day on the job. It has given me skills I can carry forward, like dealing with people. I really love it.”
However, he said that the job is often hard work, and advised people considering an apprenticeship to make sure it is the right fit for them.
He said: “You’ve got to have the right attitude and you’ve got to want to work. It’s not easy.
“I have college one day a week and I study at home as well so it can be long hours.
But the benefits of the job continue to be appealing for Ben.
He said: “I would definitely encourage people to go for it. I don’t know where I would be without it.”
Ben’s hard work has been recognised as he won Veolia’s Apprentice of the Year title in 2015. He said it was good to know his work was recognised.
“I felt honoured,” he said.
“It was great. I got to go the House of Commons and the award was presented by the CEO of the company, which was quite a big thing.”
Ben is now hoping to get a place at university to study mechanical engineering alongside his apprenticeship once he has completed his HNC.
He said: “I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.”
l Find an apprenticeship at www.gov.uk/apply-apprenticeship