ECA Edmundson Apprentice of the Year 2019 Dillon Jones shares his experience so far…
What initially made you decide to take up an apprenticeship?
I decided from a young age that further education wasn’t for me. I knew I wanted to become an electrician, so an apprenticeship gave me the opportunity to get my qualification whilst learning on the job and getting paid at the same time.
What was it like being able to earn while you learn? What benefits could you enjoy that people who took other paths perhaps could not?
Being able to earn while I was learning was great! I’d always had a part-time job in addition to my studies before but being able to earn money at the same time meant that I could focus all of my energy on getting my qualification and not have to worry about holding down another job as well.
Did you have any reservations about undertaking your apprenticeship? If so, what were they?
Absolutely! I’d heard lots of stories about building sites, and about apprentices being used as cheap labour to make the tea, but this couldn’t have been further from the truth. I was treated as an equal and mentored by some great characters throughout my apprenticeship. I can honestly say I really enjoyed it.
What are the biggest misconceptions or myths you come across about apprenticeships?
I think the biggest misconception I’ve come across is that they aren’t worth it, and you won’t get a job at the end of it. Nothing is ever guaranteed but I truly believe that if you use the opportunities that are available to you, show willingness and initiative to learn, that you’ll go far. After all, why would employers go through the expense and effort to train you up just to get rid of you?
If you could give a school leaver, unsure about their next steps, one piece of advice, what would that be?
Just do it! Even if you aren’t 100% sure about what you want to do apply for everything, find out more, and then take your pick. No one says you have to end up being what you thought you wanted to be when you started, I still don’t know what I want to be but I’m taking every opportunity I get to make sure that I give myself the best possible options when I finally decide!
How has your career changed since winning the Edmundson Apprentice of the Year Award?
It’s been a bit of a whirlwind to be honest. I’ve already attended several conferences promoting apprenticeships and talking about my journey and I’ve got much more involved with recruiting apprentices for DBS, attending careers events and providing mock interview skills workshops at some of the local schools which is really rewarding. I’m also really excited to have just been accepted to sit on the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education’s Apprentice Panel which will give me the opportunity to make sure apprentices are heard and understood by those with the power to change things - 2020 is certainly going to be a busy year for me!