Life as an apprentice

An apprenticeship is a lot different to being at school. Even though you're learning you'll be working too.

Working, earning and learning

As an apprentice you're employed and working in the construction industry, earning a weekly wage while putting into practice the skills you're learning at college. You're also studying for a recognised qualification.

What will I be doing as an apprentice? 

You'll be working for a company operating in the construction industry. The days are often long and it can be hard work but the rewards are excellent if you stick with it.

Employers vary in size from small businesses to large national and even international companies, so there could be plenty of opportunity to travel, maybe even abroad. You may also need to live away from home, so being independent will help you adjust quickly to your new life.

Whatever the size of company, you'll need to be reliable and hard working. Your team members will be depending on you, especially when it comes to working safely. 

Some jobs will mean that you're outside all year round so you'll have to be happy working out in all weathers. This can sometimes be tough in the winter, but great in the summer!

Naturally, you'll start at the bottom of the ladder learning how to do everything correctly, but as your skills and knowledge increase you'll be given more demanding, challenging and rewarding tasks. Many employers started out as an apprentice themselves and are now running their own successful businesses.

Your day will normally start at 8am, so that means you'll have to be up early to get to the site or workshop and you'll have to find your own way there. As well as leaving enough time for travelling, you'll also need to make your own arrangements to get there.

If you are lucky you may be able to get a lift, but getting your own transport will make life easier and earning a wage will help with this. Don't forget, you'll be paid for going to college as well as work.

There is a minimum wage of £95 per week to start with but if you work hard and your skills and experience increase, so will your wage. Many 3rd year apprentices earn more than £200 per week.

Apprentices don't save all their money, some of it will be needed for your new social life with the friends you've met at work and college. You'll have to keep some back to buy some quality tools as well, as this is just the start of your life as a tradesman and having the right equipment is vital if you want to progress. 

You'll constantly learn new skills at college and put them into practice in a real working environment. These skills are vital to your apprenticeship and you'll need to record what you've done in your qualifications portfolio to prove you are competent in your chosen trade.

You have to do this at home so you'll quickly learn to balance your commitments, which sometimes means having to put your apprenticeship ahead of going out and enjoying yourself. It'll all be worth it in the end, once you end up with a recognised qualification that sets you up for your future in construction.

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