Meet Anne and Nigel Thomas. Anne and Nigel are the parents of Aiden, an employee in the Opus Energy Apprenticeship programme. From the moment Aiden spoke with Opus Energy at a careers fair in Northampton, through to his successful application and starting his new role as a Customer Service Administrator, Anne and Nigel were at his side to help him research and decide upon his future career path.
Aiden isn’t the only young person whose parents are taking an active interest in their post-education future. Many parents and carers have questions, and with apprenticeships still gaining awareness in the public eye, there’s still a lot to learn. What’s more, every apprenticeship is unique in what they can offer each apprentice. So how can you know if it’s the right step?
The Opus Energy Apprenticeship programme is a stepping stone that allows new talent the chance to work in a real, salaried role, while receiving on-the-job training that will achieve them a qualification.
“This first step can be daunting so being there to support your son or daughter is essential whilst learning the benefits of an apprenticeship,” explains Deborah Allnutt, Resourcing Manager at Opus Energy.
“It is important to recognise that University is not the only route open to school leavers. Apprenticeships allow students to begin the journey of a long and rewarding career with continuous development throughout”
We asked Anne and Nigel to share their experience of Aiden’s apprenticeship journey, as parents who wanted to be supportive while their son made his decision. Here’s what they had to say.
Anne and Nigel – we understand that you had some apprehensions about Aiden taking up an apprenticeship. What was going through your mind?
One of the main things was would an apprenticeship actually offer a good developmental training and career development opportunity? It felt at times that there were plenty of Agencies offering to find an apprenticeship without too much concern about whether the employer and the opportunity were right for the individual. It also brought back memories of the long gone YTS scheme, which came to be regarded as a source of cheap or free labour for the employer with little benefit for the individual.
Had you previously had any ideas of what you would have wanted Aiden to be doing with regard to his future?
This had to be Aiden’s decision. We knew that the University route was not for him, even if College had applied lots of pressure in that direction. Finding a good job opportunity that suited his aspirations was most important.
What did you find out about the Opus Energy apprenticeship scheme that reassured you?
Again, this had to be Aiden’s decision and he was very happy with the Opus Energy offer. We were reassured by Aiden’s enthusiasm for the apprenticeship and by the commitment that Opus Energy placed on their Apprenticeship Programme, with thoroughness of the selection, induction and on-the-job training processes.
Now that Aiden has started his apprenticeship, how do you feel about this opportunity for him? Have your views on apprenticeships changed at all?
We are very happy with the support and development Aiden is receiving at Opus Energy. We cannot state that every other apprenticeship opportunity in the market is equally beneficial, but the Opus Energy programme can be taken as a benchmark of how it should be done.
What would you say to other parents who are researching apprenticeships with their son or daughter?
To all those parents of young people considering an apprenticeship, we would advise that if it does not look and feel right for your son or daughter then it probably isn’t, and encourage them to keep looking because the right opportunity will be out there!
Aiden graduated with a strong Media Studies qualification, however the studies and his work experience in the media world had convinced him that his career path was actually not in that line of work. An apprenticeship provided a great opportunity to practically learn how to apply his talents and what type of work really interested him.
In the right placement your young person should flourish!
The Opus Energy Apprenticeship programme was first launched in February 2012, and has succeeded since thanks to the talent in the local community. The programme has grown both in number and in opportunities available, as the first IT Apprenticeship recently joined the existing Customer Service and Business Administration Apprenticeship Programmes.
To find out more, please visit the Opus Energy website.
Opus Energy Apprenticeship Programme: Quick facts
– The minimum wage for an Apprenticeship in the UK is £2.73 per hour (or £5,324 annually, based on a 37.5 hour working week). All Opus Energy apprentices start on a salary of £13,000, rising to £17,000 after passing probation.
– All apprentices get 22 days paid holiday per year plus 8 bank holidays (the same as all other employees).
– Apprentices who’ve passed their probation qualify for the same benefits as employees – including private healthcare, a company-matched pension contribution scheme and £100 allowance pro rate towards a choice of flexible benefits.
– Apprenticeships last a maximum of 18 months, during which time each apprentice will have earned their QCF Level 2 or Level 3 qualification.