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Top seven reasons for doing an apprenticeship with Viridor

06th February 2020

Apprentices have been talking about the main benefits of becoming involved in the programme with Viridor.

This week, February 3 to 7, marks National Apprenticeship Week in England for 2020, during which the scheme is being promoted to youngsters across the country.

Viridor currently employs 130 apprentices across all aspects of the company, in all parts of the country.

Among them are budding engineers Liam Daly, Rachael Lister and Will Antrobus.

And the trio have told us the main reasons they embarked on the programme in the first place, and why they would recommend it to other people in their position.

1. Earn while you learn


Liam is based at Viridor's Ardley ERF in a mechanical and operations engineering technician role.

He said: "The good thing about doing an apprenticeship is you get paid while ou learn. There is no debt at the end of the course as there would be if you were going to university, so you are learning and you are able to put what you have learned into practice every day at work."

Rachael, 19, is an apprentice engineer at the Glasgow Recycling and Renewable Energy Centre (GRREC).

She said: "A lot of my friends are at uni and are more interested in music or law. I'm the only one in my group of friends who has broken away from that.

"At my age, earning the money I am, there aren't many other who can say they are earning this much.

"I am getting paid to shadow people and learning in a different way to my friends at uni.

2. Experience on the job

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Will, 20, is coming to the end of his apprenticeship at Viridor's Runcorn ERFs.

He has already started thinking about his future job prospects beyond the spring, and says his apprenticeship has opened up a whole host of opportunities thanks to the experience he now has.

Will said: "The apprenticeship has given me a lot of training and qualifications, including my level 4 NVQ - not many other apprenticeships offered the chance to do all of that.

"I enjoy going further up the learning ladder. I got into the apprenticeship because I was trying to find something that would offer experience in industry doing engineering which I could combine with a day at college."

Rachael agrees. She said: "I have never been the patient type. I hate sitting down and studying. I have always preferred getting my hands dirty and actually doing things.

"I am trusted more and more to do certain jobs myself. It feels good, like you deserve to be here. 

"Doing an apprenticeship means I have got the education and the experience which is something employers are keen to see."

3. Build your confidence


Going into your first job is hard.

Going into your first job while still a teenager, with little experience or qualifications is even harder.

But once our crop of apprentices have found their feet and spent some time learning their trade, they have found that the work they are being given is only fuelling their confidence in their abilities, and their confidence in turning an apprenticeship into a career.

Will said: "Doing an apprenticeship gives you such a great start (in your career). I'm in my fourth year and now I'm expected to do the job on my own without help from the other technicians.

"The fact I am trusted to do my own work gives me a big confidence boost. It's nice when I am given stuff to do at the start of the day, and by the end of the shift it is all finished."

Rachael said: "I am 19 and I have the qualifications and two years' experience on the job, and I have not just been confined to one area of the job either.

"It's got to the point now where I can always tell when something isn't quite right. I have become more trusted by the rest of the team the longer I have been here as well."

"Generally being in the job brings you out of your shell a bit more too. I feel like I'm not a child anymore, I'm an adult and everyone I speak to says I have come out of my shell so much and I seem so happy."

4. Teamwork


Many apprentices work as part of a team for the first time as part of the scheme.

It can have a profound effect on them and their development.

And having a network of support to fall back on can also be invaluable to those who are learning as they go on the job.

Will said: "The workshop engineering team and all of the staff at Runcorn are dead sound and dead friendly.

"They have given me help and assistance whenever there has been a problem of when I don't know how something works.

"That is a massive help, especially for someone like me who isn't necessarily familiar with all the systems and needs to be told how things work.

"You have got to have that around you when you are learning, so that helped me and boosted my confidence a lot."

Liam said: "As an apprentice you are never on your own, you work as part of a team, which is a good to solve problems, you use the group’s knowledge to benefit yourself and learn from others how to solve complex problems and situations at work."

Working with a team means it's important you get on with each other in order to make it as effective as possible.

That has proved to be no problem for Rachael, despite her being the only female apprentice on the site.

She said: "I like it that I'm the only woman engineer here. I knew it was going to be guys everywhere foing ino this industry, but that didn't faze me.

"I am just accepted as another of the engineers and I give as good as I get. I can deal with the banter - I say what I think.

"I feel like I fit in here bcause this job is what I was meant to do."

5. There is still time for education


It's not all work, work, work - the beauty of the apprenticeship is that there is time for training and learning inside the classroom.

Our apprentices are used to fitting in education time around their work with Viridor and are fully committed, even if it can lead to some long days.

Will said: "I enjoy the college side. It's one day a week - 1pm until 9pm on a Wednesday.

"I work at the ERF from 8am until 12 in the day and then go to college - I don't see the long hours as an issue at all.

"It can sometimes feel like a long day, being at college all night, but you have just got to get on with it.

"If I want to do this job full time in the future then this is what I need to do.

6. Travel and meet new people


Working for a company like Viridor, which has facilities all over the UK, also means there is a chance to travel and learn from colleagues further afield.

And for some, such as Rachael, there has also been the chance to work on her public speaking skills.

She said: "I had to speak in front of some of the Viridor directors about the apprenticeship in Dunbar.

"I had to give a presentation in front of them all. It was all very formal and I felt that was scary, but I did well and got some good feedback from senior people who said they enjoyed hearing my story."

Will said: "I have been to the ERFs in Peterborough and Ardley in Oxfordshire to get my experience up a bit more. 

"Where I work at Runcorn is the biggest site of the lot, which means there is a greater demand and more work on a day-by-day basis there, so that helped me massively when I visited the other sides."

7. Chance to help others


As a result of their positive experiences with apprenticeships, it is little surprise that the Viridor apprentices in turn are eager to recommend that others follow their path.

Will said: "I would definitely recommend it to others and I have recommended it to people that I know.

"One of my mates is now a second-year apprentice on the same site as me and I have recommended it to a few of my other mates who are considering engineering as well."

Rachael said: "The hardest thing is a lot of people don't know what they want to do in their careers when they are teenagers. 

"The biggest thing is getting the experience and as many learning opportunities as you can to find what it best for you.

"It doesn't matter if it's going to be hard work or a long road to become qualified - if it is what you want to do then it is going to be worth it in the long run."


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