Why be an apprentice electrician?
An apprenticeship can take you in all sorts of interesting directions. Find out what our Apprentice Electrician has to say about his learning journey.
20 year-old Sam Askew is approaching his third year of training with Arc Mechanical & Electrical as an Apprentice Electrician. He is currently studying a 3-year level 3 NVQ course in Electrical Installation through Redbridge College in Essex. Here’s what he had to say about his experiences so far.
Why did you choose the construction industry?
My interest stems from working on various projects in the house with my Dad from a young age. It became a bonding activity and I became pretty handy as a result!
As I grew up I maintained an interest in electronics and studied it at GCSE and A-Level, alongside Business Studies. I was keen to pursue those areas in order to start my own business and create a legacy.
Why did you choose this apprenticeship and what other options did you consider?
I did well at A-Level and university was one of the options I considered, but I’ve always been a visual and practical learner and didn’t think that full-time higher education would give me enough hands-on experience to thrive. I believe an apprenticeship gives me the most hands-on skills.
Can you tell us about some of the practical skills/techniques you're learning?
My apprenticeship covers different subjects. In my first year we covered a lot of health and safety information and in year two we look at base isolation, basic lighting and socket circuits. Plus there’s lots of testing, which allows me to see the things I’ve worked on in action, which is really satisfying.
There’s not a day where I go on site and don’t feel confident about what I’m doing as it’s either covered in college or there’s someone who I can call on for advice and everyone’s really happy to help and lend a hand.
Can you tell us about some of the social skills you're learning?
There was a real change in dynamic when I left school (where I knew everyone) and went to college where I knew fewer people. But I made some good friends on my first day on-site and people are generally happy to chat.
There’s always some work banter going on that keeps everyone uplifted and it’s a great environment to be in.
What do you hope to do once you finish your apprenticeship?
Once I have my Level 3 NVQ in Electrical Installation I’ll go on to do more work-based courses such as the 17th Edition Wiring Regulations, plus Electrical Inspection & Testing. I’d love to keep working with Arc when I finish my apprenticeship.
Can you tell us something funny that's happened to you whilst you were at work?
In my old job we had an apprentice who kept turning up late because he had to get dressed into his work clothes every morning in our stores. One morning I came into the stores office to find his work boots grip-filled to the ceiling. He then spent the next hour trying to peel them off.
About a month later it was baking hot out and all the vans were out for the day, so we had to carry all our tools and materials around the centre of Bethnal Green in a broken shopping trolley, held together by a cardboard box. The looks we got were priceless!
Once I accidentally left my phone in the office and when I came back for it, it had gone. I got my mate to ring it for me but it sounded like it was coming from under the desk. I spent a good hour pulling out the desk to find it, but then I noticed one of the stores managers laughing. I looked up and it was in the light fixture above me, placed in such a way that the sound projected onto the desk.
Why would you recommend an apprenticeship to a school leaver or someone who is considering a career/education change?
Trades like electrical, plumbing, roofing and scaffolding are always in demand. If you’re a hands-on person, or feel like you’re in the wrong career and interested in a more physical one, then it’s a great career path.
Doing an apprenticeship gets you that bit further ahead than people who have studied only in a classroom environment but may have never held a screwdriver. I feel like I’m in a solid job with a solid future.
Fancy setting up your own enterprise one day? Visit our Tools of the Trade Hub to find out everything you need to know about running your own business or building a career in your trade.