It is National Apprentices Week, which runs from 9th to 13th March 2015 and will celebrate apprenticeships and the positive impact they have on individuals, businesses and the wider economy.

In the early 1990s there were virtually no apprentices, the concept had almost died out. Things have changed in the last decade, with university being less of an option for many school leavers, due to the increasing difficulty would-be students face with escalating fees and the prospect of being saddled with a huge loan on completion of their course. And even more depressing, the difficulty of netting a well paid job afterwards. Thankfully many small to medium sized businesses realise the value of taking on apprentices, and Jacksons can be counted amongst them. We have been actively engaged in offering opportunities to young, keen and willing individuals, through liaison with local colleges.

So in the week that is designed to raise awareness of apprenticeship schemes, lets meet some of the Jacksons apprentices, past and present, and see what it means to them to be given training and a chance to become part of the Jacksons team.

Doug White - Joined Jacksons in Dec 2010 as an apprentice in the Automation workshop.

The thought of university didn’t really appeal to me, I hadn’t got great qualifications and I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do or study there, if I did go – so it struck me it would be a waste to spend time and money on it. I knew I wanted to do something ‘hands-on’ and a role where I could earn whilst I learned was the answer for me. It has given me a direction and purpose, I work with a great team, with people I enjoy spending time with and that I am learning from all the time. I am delighted that I was given this opportunity and really proud of my achievements.  The apprenticeship was for 3 years -  I am now employed full time by Jacksons as Assistant Automation Workshop Technician, I’m very happy here.”

Doug at work in autoworkshop

Rob West – Joined as an apprentice in September 2011 in Jacksons Maintenance Department.

I had just finished a 1 year BTEC course at Canterbury College when I heard about Jacksons being interested in taking on an apprentice in their maintenance department. I was immediately interested, as I recognised that this was a really good opportunity. Andy Tune, the General Manager visited the college to see us and tell us more about Jacksons, from then on, those that were interested were given a test – I think there were quite a lot that went for it, including me, maybe 20 plus.  I got an interview after that and I got the place. It’s a 4-year scheme, doing one day a week at college and the rest of the time working with the team at Jacksons. They are a great group of guys and have really made me welcome. I’ve finished the college part now and the apprenticeship will be completed in August this year. It’s been great, I’m always learning from everyone I work with, it’s very varied, learning all aspects of maintenance and engineering, operating machinery and teamwork – throughout the 4 years I’ve passed my NVQ levels 2 and 3 as well. I am very lucky to have this chance and I hope that in August I can continue working for Jacksons full time, doing something I really enjoy.

 Rob in maintenance

Mike Cowan  - Joined Automation Installation Team in November 2014

I had done a City and Guilds in Fabrication and Welding at Canterbury College and was introduced to Jacksons by the college. I saw this as a really good chance to get on and further my training, as uni really didn’t appeal to me and I wanted to get involved in a hands-on role, that would be a challenge to me. I am enjoying being involved with the really good team here, who have made me welcome and I am learning a lot. I go out in the vans with a different automation engineer every day, this can be to domestic or commercial customers, who have our automation equipment. We repair or service the equipment, and I’ve even been given a couple of installations of my own to do. It’s the best way to learn by doing practical tasks, you learn it so much better when you do it, it goes in much better than just watching or reading about it.  My apprenticeship scheme is for 3 years, I’ve nearly done 6 months of it and am really happy I came to Jacksons – when I look to the future I hope I will be given the chance to stay on after the 3 years are up.

Mike with autovan

Simon Folwell – Joined Retail Sales team as an apprentice in January 2012

Its been said before, no doubt, but I’d really had enough of education and was keen to get out in to the real world and do something different. I needed a new challenge, and wanted to do something that made a difference, however small that might be - a new fence or gate can make difference to people and at the end of the day, if you’ve made someone happy with their new fence, you’ve got a result!  I learned such a lot from the start, and there was a lot to learn. It may not seem so from the outside, but there’s a lot to know about fencing and I’m glad that it was the best fencing in the market place that I learned all about. Before I knew it I was advising customers in the Jakstore, face to face and sounding convincing, that’s because it was good quality product and a great team to work with. My apprenticeship was finished by October 2012, and happily I was offered full time employment in the sales department. I went off to work somewhere else for a while in 2013, but I’m back in the commercial sales department at Jacksons now. You could say that my opportunity at Jacksons gave me the confidence to talk to people, that I was sadly lacking in before I started here and it’s also given me a direction in my life, that can’t be bad.

Simon in Commecial sales ofice

Thanks to all our apprentices for taking part, we couldn’t have done this story without your help. If you are a business owner you can check out the apprenticeship scheme by clicking here.