Refrigeration apprentice Matt Rose was 18 when he started studying Level 2 refrigeration at Bath College. After working for five years (and training a few apprentices of his own) he returned to college to study for a Level 3 apprenticeship.
You work at TH White, what does your job role include?
At TH White, we do everything from security to construction, but I work in the dairy department. I’m fixing, installing, decommissioning and repairing milking equipment.
I like a challenge. You get a phone call saying ‘I have a break-down,’ but often there’s not a lot of information before you go out on the job. You need to think ‘what do I need to take on this job?’ I’m not stuck in an office, it’s nice to see the countryside – you end up having your lunch break in a different place every day.
How did you start out in the refrigeration industry?
I wanted to do a trade and find a decent job and I thought ‘why not try the foundation course?’ That was at Bath College, and after that I got a Level 2 apprenticeship for myself with TH White.
Even coming back to college now, I’m learning a lot. The Level 3 course is an in-depth course focusing on specific subjects which are relevant to you. It’s valuable coming into the college, at the end of this I will have a Level 3 diploma in air conditioning and refrigeration. It will give me a better foothold and more leverage when it comes to the chance for a promotion and a pay rise.
How do you feel you’ve improved since starting out as an apprentice in the early days of your career?
I’ve had four apprentices since I finished the level 2 course. It was daunting teaching the apprentices to start with but I learned a lot from teaching them. When they ask questions, it makes you think. You don’t realise how much you’ve learned until you have to answer their questions.
What’s the best thing about being in the air conditioning and refrigeration industry?
Air conditioning and refrigeration is everywhere, so there’s a demand for jobs. You can go to any place that has air conditioning and refrigeration and ask them who does their service and maintenance, and then you can ask that company for a job. It’s about using your initiative.
What advice do you have for someone starting out in the trade?
I would say the best thing you can do is find yourself a decent apprenticeship and get yourself enrolled on a course. With the foundation course, you don’t have to have an apprenticeship but you have to get on the course and to be able to pay for it.
What I say to my apprentices is that ‘yes the wage is lower but you don’t have the knowledge yet’. I would highly recommend an apprenticeship. It’s been a good route for me – If I wasn’t doing this I don’t know what I would be doing, but now I have a trade for life.