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Taking a leap into an Apprenticeship

Apprentice Tom Montgomery talks about his experiences before taking an apprenticeship and why he feels it was the best decision.

Tom Montgomery
As I turned 20 I felt I had a big decision to make. Should I continue with the job I was currently in or should I take the skills I have gained and develop them elsewhere? That's when the South West Water apprenticeship job came up...

I'll take you back a good few years. On completion of secondary school, like many teenagers I didn't have any idea at all of what I wanted to do with my life. I eventually decided to go to college, and gained a level 2 qualifications in construction, with a CSCS (Construction Skills Certification Scheme) card to go with it, which enabled me to work on site. At the time I finished college, Britain was plunged deep into the hardest-hitting recession in memory and the construction industry was badly affected. Fortunately while I was at college I got myself a part-time job at an Exeter wholesaler, and they were eventually good enough to take me on full time. I soon realised that it would be a long wait until the construction industry picked up, so I was happy in the knowledge I had my qualification in the bank as it were and was ready to make a go of it at my new job, with the eye of maybe, one day, returning to my trade.

Three-and-a-half years passed at that job, with me firmly getting to grips with the company and making good impressions there. I had been working in the transport department there and logistics had always interested me, but I felt the company didn't quite take the transport side seriously enough. I got home from work one day and by chance I had an email from the National Apprenticeships website informing me of various companies taking on apprentices - I had subscribed to the website back in my college days. On closer inspection I saw an apprenticeship working within Transport. Perfect I thought, then I saw it was for South West Water and that made my mind up there and then. Within 30 minutes of getting in the door from work I had already started filling out the online application. You may ask why, when I am showing signs of progression at a job I was very comfortable in, would I want to take a 'step back' and go into an apprenticeship? The answer was simple for me, a company that has great credibility within the employment spectrum, an exciting opportunity to prove myself to an employer all over again and all this in a field I already had a degree of knowledge in, the opportunity was excellent!

Five months down the line here I am. I feel settled and part of the South West Water family already. All my pre-conceived perceptions of the company were correct; this really is a place to join, settle and stay. My job in the transport department varies from day to day but the main premise of the role is to get the vehicles on the road and keep them on the road. Keeping our transport records up to date to ensure we are running legally, liaising with managers over invoices and enquiries as well as various jobs my manager directs my way are just a few of the duties that fill my day.

I guess I'm not your stereotypical straight-from-school apprentice, but then, what is a stereotypical apprentice these days? With apprenticeships becoming more and more popular and appearing on virtually every political parties manifesto this Spring, they have a majorly important part to play in the future of young (and not so young!) people's careers, and I for one am extremely glad and grateful that South West Water have given me the chance to join the apprenticeship bandwagon with them.

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