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.
Developing confidence, developing a career
Nomsa - or Titch as she is better known - is a 26 year old painter and decorator.
She had already achieved her Level 1 in the trade at Barnet and Finchley College when she came to United Living.
Titch says she is inspired to do creative things as her father is a famous artist in South Africa and she feels certain this creativity to work with paint - in any form - is in her blood. But she wasn’t always so sure of herself. An early dabble with Performance and Drama at college left her lacking in confidence and feeling unsure of finding a career that suited her.
When she joined the project she was working on a site in Brent and although her skills were growing, she was suffering from her lack of confidence, despite encouragement from her managers. However, a move to South Kilburn has made all the difference. She now works with Beverley - a mature apprentice, painter and decorator. Beverley has been mentoring and supporting Titch – and both of them have been benefiting from this relationship.
Although she is still quite shy, Titch has a quiet determination about her and says she hopes one day to run her own painting and decorating business. But for now she’s happy to build on the basic skills she has learnt and her confidence is growing daily - having already gained her Level 2 Diploma.
She says, ‘I’ve really learned a lot being an Apprentice. I’m building up my skills daily and I know it will help me get the qualifications I need to do something different with my life and hopefully start my own business one day.’
Don’t stop till you get enough
This Michael Jackson classic could be the theme tune for 56 year old Stanley Xavier who really believes we should keep on learning – whatever our age - and never give up the quest to take on something new.
He was initially taken on as a plumber, which complemented his experience and diplomas in several trades - including electrical fitting, painting and decorating, central heating and carpentry. Since working with United Living, he’s also had the opportunity to attend a Gas Safety course and go on day release.
Ultimately Stanley wants to be a site manager and feels it’s important when you’re working with different trades to be confident in what you can expect and ask of other people - and also to be able to demonstrate that you understand what the job needs. The apprenticeship will allow him to grow his skills across the trade areas and help him ensure projects are delivered on time and to high standards.
But the key benefit of the apprenticeship is in giving him the qualifications and verification that his skills are meeting industry standards. Stanley says, 'It’s all very well being good at a job and even getting recommendations from people to do work for others. But especially large companies need to know you can work to British standards and have recognised qualifications, so you really need something in black and white. Then you can take those skills anywhere in the country – or abroad.’
Stanley feels his age is a benefit to him. His wide experience of working life – not just in the building trades - has given him the ability to work with people at all levels. This is something he thinks will be vital in a role as site manager and he’s grateful to have the apprenticeship to hone his skills further.
‘I’ve always been good at making the best of every situation, so I have grabbed this opportunity with both hands. I really think apprenticeships should be opened up to more people, of all ages, to give them the chance to do the same.’