Daniel Marriott is an apprentice with GEM Solution. The property maintenance firm, based on Lower Bristol Road, Bath, specialises in electrical, gas, carpentry, decorating and roofing. Daniel, 20, works as a site carpentry apprentice and starts the 3rd year of his apprenticeship in September.
What did you study at Bath College before you became an apprentice?
I joined the college in 2010, when I was 14-years-old. I progressed to study on the access to building services course, and then air conditioning and refrigeration. Although I completed my course, when I looked for an apprenticeship in air conditioning and refrigeration I was unsuccessful. Instead, I took some time out and became a labourer. I’ve been working for GEM Solution since March 2015, and when I was asked if I’d like to study as an apprentice I jumped at the opportunity.
Can you tell me what you do in your day job as an apprentice?
I’m working as a site carpentry apprentice, which means I go out with other tradesmen on site. Within the company, we can have up to 25 people onsite, including plumbers and electricians, as well as carpenters.
We never do the same thing twice; every day is different and we can be out onsite in Bath, Frome or Trowbridge, anywhere in the surrounding area. Last week, I put in a skylight, we made a hole in the roof and fitted a timber framework around it. Recently, we also completed work on a massive factory in Frome, I haven’t done anything as big as that before, so I learned quite a bit.
We are partnered with a kitchen company in Frome – they make and fit everything from scratch. It’s good to be working somewhere where there are two companies, because you have a chance to complete a wide range of tasks.
Why were you keen to study for an apprenticeship?
Although I was working as a labourer, there wasn’t a career progression route and it wasn’t something that I could see myself doing in ten years’ time. Now every day I spend at work is time spent investing in my future, because I’m closer to completing my apprenticeship. I enjoy working as an apprentice because the company has invested in you and you feel respected.
It’s a big pay drop from being a labourer to becoming an apprentice, but it’s important to think about your long-term goal. When I was a labourer my pay wasn’t going to go up and it was a flat rate, so I will benefit more in the end.
What’s the difference between studying as an apprentice and as a full-time student?
Previously as a student at 14, I had to attend college whether I wanted to or not. Now, as an apprentice, it’s up to me to turn up on time. I have returned with a drive to learn, because it’s for my benefit to finish the apprenticeship and earn a decent salary – the way I feel about going into college has changed a lot. The quicker I complete my qualification the better.
What do you learn in college?
I come into college once a week to study. This year, I studied functional skills in the morning, after that I would have theory and in the afternoon I’d have practical lessons. At the moment, I’m completing my NVQ online. I’m uploading photos of the jobs I have undertaken and completing health and safety assessments for my e-learning portfolio.
Next year, I’ll return for the final year of college. This year, I enjoyed the practical lessons in particular. We were all given our own bay, it was basically a little room where you could complete all the carpentry work that might be needed onsite. We had to put in a window bay, fit a door and do the skirting boards.
Our tutor was available, but he wasn’t there to give us help with everything. He wanted to get us thinking for ourselves, if you have a problem you need to spot it and work out how to fix it for yourself. It took a lot of patience, but I was proud of the result at the end.
There’s always someone available to support you at college. I have an assessor who comes out onsite, as well as a theory and practical lecturer, so there’s several members of staff you can speak to. Because I’ve done quite a few years at college, peoples’ faces are familiar. Sometimes it doesn’t feel like I’m in college because I feel so relaxed.
What are you enjoying about your apprenticeship?
Just learning new things every day, and I’m just excited to see what the future brings. I enjoy being out and about, the carpenter I work with is one of my best friends so it’s a good environment. I’ve enjoyed learning from different generations of carpenters who have been taught in different ways, I’m learning from different people and finding out what suits me. At the moment I can do quite a lot, but I’m still learning how to plan my work and think about the best thing to do in certain situations.
What advice would you give to someone attending at college at 14-years-old?
Just get your head down and work hard. Don’t let what’s happened in the past ruin the future because there’s always time to change. Getting kicked out of school and coming to college, although it wasn’t ideal, I wouldn’t have changed anything because I’ve learned from the experience. I would recommend the college to anyone because the treatment I’ve been given has been really good. The teachers have given me so many chances, they saw potential in me. It’s nice for them to see me back and to see they were right – it’s nice to be able to prove myself.