Tom is a Maintenance Operations Apprentice at Devizes based Aster Group; landlord and developer of new homes. Aster Group build homes for open market sale and shared ownership, and reinvest their profits into developing the business, its people and local communities.
Having gained GCSE’s in Geography, Physical Education and Business, Tom went on to complete a one year NVQ in Plumbing at college. Until that point Tom was not sure what he wanted to do, he remembers having a session at school around careers and the future but nothing was fixed in his mind. Tom’s step dad works in construction and this was a route he started to consider. Tom wanted a hands-on job rather than being office based, his other option was to join the Army!
The recruitment process for Aster Group involves several stages; it begins with an online application, if selected you are invitation to an assessment day where candidates are put into teams to undertake group tasks. This gives recruiters an opportunity to see how individuals can apply common sense and knowledge to get the job done, as would be the case day to day. If successful, candidates are then invited to interview. Tom told us that the apprenticeships were very popular as hundreds applied for the vacancies on offer. Tom believes that his previous year at college really helped him through the process and secure the apprenticeship.
As a Maintenance Operations Apprentice, there is no such thing as a typical day; plumbing, carpentry, brickwork, gas and plastering all form part of his role in response to customer repairs and planned maintenance. Tom will spend his two-year apprenticeship developing his knowledge and skills in these trades before being allowed to work as an “improver”; this is the period following training where apprentices work independently at Aster Group but have support close by to ensure that they are working to the best possible standards. Tom could then undertake a year’s training at level three in a specific trade area.
Tom attends Bristol College one day a week as part of his training and told us that there are several women on his course and they often do better than the men. Some of his fellow students hope to develop their careers in arts, interior design and architecture and hope that the foundation knowledge gained from such a varied course will help them achieve this goal.
We asked Tom what advice he would offer others who are considering an apprenticeship:
Every day you are learning practical skills whilst growing in confidence and maturity. The apprentice pay at Aster Group is good and whilst the training will take several years Tom sees the value of the training and support he is given.
Tom’s parents fully supported him in his application to become an apprentice. Since becoming an apprentice Tom is proud of his accomplishments; he can fit a bathroom suite, something he wouldn’t have considered when he was leaving school.
Tom would like to develop his career and progress onto an NVQ level 3 Plumbing and Domestic Heating course, this could enable him to become a Gas Engineer. Tom is also interested in renewable energy and how this will shape his future career options.