It's National Apprenticeship Week (7th - 13th February 2022) and we're here to shout about how amazing apprenticeships are.
Often branded the 'non-traditional' option, apprenticeships are a brilliant way to fast-track yourself to a rewarding, lifelong career. You get to earn while you learn, get real work experience on your CV and gain recognised qualifications - what's not to love?!
If this isn't enough to convince you, perhaps Matthew Rothwell's story will. Matthew started as an apprentice and has worked his way to up become Director of Safety and Business Performance at M&Y Maintenance and Construction. Read on to find out what he had to say about his career journey.
Hi Matt, you’re Director of Safety and Business Performance at M&Y which is a pretty impressive job title. Can you tell us a bit about what that means and what you do?
My job is split into three main areas. Firstly, and probably the most important aspect, is the health and safety side of things. I’m responsible for overseeing the health and safety function for the whole of The Regenda Group – we operate in lots of different sectors and there’s lots of people we need to keep safe by following rules and requirements. My role is making sure the team is supported across the business to do things safely.
I’m responsible for reporting in to all the necessary boards and management teams, and making sure things are investigated when things to go wrong, and making sure things don’t go wrong again.
Secondary is the facilities management side which is about the running of all of our offices across The Regenda Group, making sure all budgets are managed correctly and that our offices are a safe environment to work in.
The last part is looking after the Business Development Team at M&Y. We bid for new work like construction jobs, maintenance jobs, cleaning contracts or gardening contracts. The administration team at M&Y also report to me and support the whole M&Y team.
Did you ever think you’d do something like this?
No, not at all. My mum worked in an office and my dad worked in a factory and I never wanted to do either of those things because I’d hear them moan about work. I actually wanted to work in hospitality – I wanted to be a chef. I started out washing dishes in a pub as you had to work your way up from a really low salary job.
The reason I didn’t was because I saw an apprenticeship opportunity come up and it paid more than washing the dishes. I went along for an interview for the apprenticeship, and I got it.
What was your apprenticeship role and what did it involve?
So I was a Business Apprentice at a housing association and it was 4 days a week in the office and 1 day in college.
I was doing lots of administrative stuff – things like stamping rent books, which I had to do by hand and send them out to tenants. Other things like sorting out faxes, typing up letters and printing things. No one typed their own letters then and it wasn’t even that long ago!
What impact did your apprenticeship have on your career journey?
The money sold it to me but it was probably a better career path and more sociable hours than hospitality. I finished my apprenticeship and I got a job in the contact centre at The Regenda Group and went on to become team leader there.
I moved into housing for a short while but it wasn’t for me. I can’t even remember why but I just knew it wasn’t for me. So I went back into the contact centre and worked my way through various jobs including an Office Manager role.
Then an opportunity came up to manage health and safety for the group. The business supported me to get my health and safety qualifications and I was able to get a degree which was an amazing opportunity. From there I got promoted into the role I’m in now.
What would you say to anyone considering an apprenticeship?
I’d say absolutely go for it if you’re considering an apprenticeship. I think some people underestimate apprenticeships. I always tell people that mine gave me a real grounding of being in a work place. It gives you that exposure to a working environment and gets you used to what it’s like to go to work.
It’s a great way into an organisation and you’re learning on the job. You’re learning from the experts, for free, and getting a salary.
I know I’ve been very fortunate to be surrounded by people who’ve given me opportunities, and I haven’t always been fully qualified but I've been given the chance to upskill while working. I’ve been in the right place at the right time and the organisation has supported me to progress.
I never thought I’d be a director and I became one by 30!
Are there apprenticeship opportunities at M&Y?
We're recruiting throughout the year for apprentices at M&Y. We’re very proud to say that 100% of our apprentices in the last 2 years have been given a full time job.
Our trades apprentices are learning from skilled experts – they're essentially giving away their skills for free to train up apprentices. We’ve had apprentices qualify as heating engineers, we’ve had health and safety apprentices become part of the team and they’re going on to sit their qualifications with our support.
There’s a massive skills shortage and employers invest in their apprentices and don’t want to let them go. At M&Y we set ourselves the target of 5% of the workforce being apprentices, and we’re above that at 6%. There are always opportunities so keep an eye on our website and on social media for vacancies.
Are you looking for an apprenticeship opportunity? Come along to our Apprenticeship Open Day on Thursday 10th February at our city-centre campus, 2-6pm.