“Being an adult with children to take care of, I looked into the apprenticeship route and in less than 2 years I have gone from novice to mentor, with confidence and knowledge that I am extremely proud of.”
Apprenticeships have grown in popularity over the years and has been a great option for those looking to get into employment whilst gaining new skills and a qualification, not to mention securing a salary as well.
But, what’s less well known is that apprenticeships really are for anyone, no matter your age. Adults over the age of 19 are beginning to realise this and South Devon College are seeing increased interest from adults considering an apprenticeship as a way of starting a new career.
You can study apprenticeships at all levels – starting from Level 2, equivalent to GCSEs, all the way up to full honours degree level at University Centre South Devon, part of South Devon College. Higher and degree level apprenticeships make the most of all the same benefits apprenticeships have to offer whilst gaining a university education.
One of South Devon College’s apprentices and employees, Tasha Westwood, wanted to share her story to encourage others to consider apprenticeships and spread awareness that they’re not just for 16–18-year-olds.
“After eagerly leaving school to go straight into hospitality/catering work to make money, I decided at the age of 30 to return to education. I felt like it wasn’t quite right for me, and I wanted to be an inspiration for my children in working hard to achieve your goals and getting job satisfaction.
“Now being an adult with children to take care of, I looked into the apprenticeship route so I could earn and learn in a new career without having to worry about paying for a course. In May 2018 I enrolled onto evening classes to retake my Maths and English GCSEs at South Devon College. This was a great first step in dipping a toe back into learning as well as having the childcare requirements needed between my husband and I. It wasn’t easy going back into education, but I had a pillar of support from family, close friends, and my college tutors to get me through the year.
“In August 2019 I received my GCSE results (which were higher than I’d anticipated) and was elated to be able to begin pursuing an apprenticeship. I applied myself to any office/reception-based apprenticeships I could find as I’d never done office work before, and I knew there would be a vast variety of career development choices if I could just get my foot in the door.
“It had been nine years since I’d had a job interview. I was equally nervous and excited every time I interviewed with different companies for an apprenticeship. Every time I received great feedback but had always gotten “second-best” as someone else was just that little bit more suited than me. For four months I applied with no joy until interviewing for a Business Administration Apprenticeship at South Devon College.
“In February 2020 I finally started my apprenticeship, but before I could even start my first classroom day of the apprenticeship, COVID-19 hit and what would have been a normal structure to the 18 months of learning was completely rewritten. Working from home and attending the majority of my classroom days through Teams was a challenge, but it was one I set my mind to with the hope of making the most of a difficult situation.
“With the help of excellent tutors, great colleagues, and supportive family I was able to progress and produce a high quality of work both in the office and the virtual classroom. It wasn’t easy for anyone during that time but trying to learn a completely new career while hardly having any onsite time was particularly tough. I think it speaks volumes of the quality of the people I have had around me and my own determination that by July 2021 I was rewarded with a permanent role in my position at South Devon College.
“The apprenticeship has been a great way, even while working from home, to review and improve the way I learn and work. I have been able to take real world situations that I work in day to day and breakdown all the skills I am using and not only improve my skills but also improve the processes that I have been working on and even create some new ones of my own. I am also mentoring a new apprentice, giving me the chance to share my experiences in learning and working onsite to ensure that they are getting the most out of their apprenticeship. In less than 2 years I have been able to go from a complete novice to a mentor with confidence and knowledge that I am extremely proud of.”
You too could make a big change in your life, whether it’s for financial gain or more job satisfaction in a career that’s right for you. Visit southdevon.ac.uk/apprenticeships and discover the next steps to your future.
If you have any questions, you can email [email protected] or call 08000 380 123.