It’s National Apprenticeship Week and we have been learning about the seven apprentices working with construction company, United Living, to renovate and rebuild properties on our South Kilburn estate.
National Apprenticeship Week is co-ordinated by the National Apprenticeship Service and is designed to celebrate apprenticeships and the positive impact they have on individuals businesses and the wider economy.
Opportunity out of adversity
Getting into an apprenticeship came at just the right time for Omar Sabdou (25). He’d studied Architecture and Design at University but after his father passed away he’d become disillusioned and lost direction. He’d ‘dropped out’, felt he was learning nothing new and was wasting his time. Then his friend Bilal encouraged him to apply for the apprenticeship scheme at South Kilburn.
Omar’s talent was quickly spotted and he is now studying to be a Quantity Surveyor. He is getting a buzz from ‘getting the best value for money working with the best people’ and doing all the things he wanted to do - delivered in one package.
He feels apprenticeships used to be seen as an easy option but that is no longer true and the image has changed in recent years. His apprenticeship is quite demanding - especially when he’s been really busy on site and there is coursework to do at the end of the day - but it has been worthwhile. Omar is enjoying building the skills which could lead to a qualification and challenging, meaningful full time employment.
‘I would recommend apprenticeships to others. You get quality training, a well respected qualification and most important for me increasing wages as my experience grows. I can get on with my life and look forward to some career progression.’
When United Living saw the promise in me and gave me the chance to train, I felt almost as though my father was somehow guiding things and that he’d now be really pleased with how things are turning out.’
Hands on apprenticeships for a foot on the employment ladder
Saeed Akhtar (31) is a recent graduate in Architecture but felt is was difficult to get work without practical know-how. He wanted more experience working on design and new-build developments and, applied for the post of Trainee Design and Site Manager on the South Kilburn site.
‘At least 50% of this role has been on site, so it’s given me a great opportunity to work on a live project – something you rarely get when you’re studying at University. I’ve also been able to work alongside other skilled professionals in various related disciplines including Project Managers and Site Managers.’
Saeed feels he is expanding on his existing knowledge and adding valuable skills like project co ordination, handling tough deadlines, budgeting and quality issues and teamwork. He’s learning ‘people skills’ too - including the diplomacy needed to work in sensitive situations between clients and trade professionals.
“I’m able to put into practice all skills I’ll need in the workplace and I’m really happy that this apprenticeship is improving my prospects for future employability.’
Age is just a number
Paul Salako is 61 and is positive that it’s never too late to learn something new.
He is currently learning carpentry and building on his knowledge of construction and multiple trade disciplines to ultimately become a handyman.
Paul says he’s living proof that many older people are taking up new challenges at a time when they’re supposed to be thinking about retirement.
‘I’ve had various jobs and had previous experience in plumbing, electrical work and bathroom fitting but I like to keep learning. That’s why I’m doing a National Vocational Qualification in carpentry and formalising my knowledge so that I get the qualifications I need.
‘I’m really pleased to be doing this and I only wish more organisations would see the potential in older people and their ability to keep learning. There’s something new to discover every day. Too many people think their ‘time is up’ and that no one is interested in them but many would be willing to take a bite at something like this. An apprenticeship can give you new opportunities and after all, age is just a number.’