Apprenticeship offers the ideal alternative to academic study for Harpreet

A bricklaying apprenticeship was the perfect solution for Bristol teenager Harpreet Klair, who was keen to leave school once he’d completed his GCSEs.

Although he’d done well at City Academy Bristol, gaining 8 A-C grades, he didn’t really enjoy formal education and was looking for an alternative way to learn the skills and gain the experience he would need for a worthwhile career.

When an apprentice fair was held at his school, Harpreet found out about Taylor Wimpey’s trade apprenticeships from On Site Bristol – a not-for-profit organisation led by Bristol City Council which helps young people to find jobs and training in construction – and decided this was the option which would suit him best.

He started as a Bricklaying Apprentice with Taylor Wimpey in September 2014, working at the housebuilder’s Somerdale development in Keynsham, and hasn’t looked back since.

“I didn’t enjoy school very much, so I thought construction would be a good industry to go into, where I could make a good living,” Harpreet explains.

Most of Harpreet’s friends are in sixth form or at college, and he says he’s really noticed the benefits an apprenticeship has offered him compared to staying on at school.

“I really like the fact that it’s different to what my friends are doing,” he says. “I like working outside – it’s so much better than being sat behind a desk all day – and it’s rewarding to learn practical skills.

“I’m also earning at the same time – in fact one of the things my friends have been surprised by is how well I’m paid. It makes such a difference earning a wage.”

As a trade apprentice at Somerdale, Harpreet has been supported by a mentor and has worked alongside experienced tradespeople at the development, gaining the job-specific skills he needs to progress in his career.

Now aged 18, he’s nearly completed his NVQ Level 2 in Bricklaying – an industry-recognised qualification which he’s worked towards through a day release programme at the City of Bristol College’s Ashley Down Centre – and is full of praise for the apprenticeship route he’s chosen.

Harpreet adds: “The first couple of months were hard because I didn’t really know anything but as I’ve learned more it’s got easier and I’ve got more confidence. I’ve had really good support from everyone working on site.

“I’d recommend an apprenticeship to anyone who’s looking for an alternative to staying on at school. It was definitely the right choice for me.”

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