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06/03/2017 by Charlotte Hall

What it’s really like to be an apprentice

I’m not a typical apprentice.  I’m a mum with a young child. Charlotte Hall at the Great British Apprenticeship Challenge

I regretted not trying to get an apprenticeship when I left school. College was a struggle and I had to quit due to money being so tight. I wanted a qualification but experience too, An apprenticeship is the best way to get both. I jumped at the chance to an apprenticeship with Efficiency North in 2016 because it was the best way to get a head start on getting a good career to benefit me and my family.

I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect when I first started as I’d never done this type of job before. I was more used to getting my hands dirty.

A job without training can be overwhelming, there is a lot less leeway and employers want you to already know what to do.  Further education might give you all the knowledge you need but if you haven’t had much practice it doesn’t mean you’ll be good at the job.

I’ve learnt a lot since I started, from building up my IT skills to knowing my rights and responsibilities in work which is a lot more practical than you’d ever realise. I’ve used some of my training to help my partner at work too.

It’s such a different environment to work in. I’d always worked outdoors before. My biggest surprise has been how some of the work comes so naturally and easily, such as answering the phones and using the CRM system, yet other stuff, such as typing out emails, doesn’t feel as easy as I’m usually worrying about the use of language, vocabulary, and grammar. My biggest surprise was realising how difficult it was to balance my home life in a full-time job, but Efficiency North give me flexibility to fit my working hours around childcare needs.

Work makes me smile and laugh quite often as I work with a good group of people. The most notable time was when I had just started working for EN and I was invited along to an event. The event went well and I had walked across the room to start the recording of a presentation my colleague was doing and after I set the camera recording I stood with my hands behind my back and realised I had at some point ripped my skirt right at the back and I had no idea when I had done this. I stood discreetly hiding it until the end of the event when I mentioned to one of my colleagues what had happened.  We hoped that the place where we were to have lunch might have a sewing kit but sadly they did not so I had to use my strategically placed handbag to cover up my fashion faux pas. We did go to a shop on the way back to the office and I managed a quick fix up. Now every time I pick up a skirt I can’t help but have a little giggle.

My proudest moment so far was when I could pass on my knowledge around rights and responsibilities to my partner when he was being treated unfairly at work.

I often think more about what my future will be like.  In fact I’ve just made myself a plan for the next 5 years to make both small and big changes to my life.

I wouldn’t have got this far without all the opportunities my apprenticeship is bringing.  I really enjoyed being on the Panel of the first Great British Apprenticeship Challenge last week and talking to BBC TV presenter Harry Gration and the audience about my apprenticeship experience.  I never thought I’d have the confidence to do anything like that before.

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