‘I don’t get that Sunday evening syndrome’: how an apprenticeship can transform your career

Rheiss Brown has been “around the block a bit” when it comes to his career, 彼は言い​​ます. The 30-year-old has had a range of interesting jobs, from working for the London 2012 オリンピック競技, to setting up his own Caribbean takeaway shop.

Brown launched his food business with a friend in 2018, selling modern Caribbean food such as burgers and wraps. But the work could be gruelling. “Food is demanding, there are no days off and long hours,」と彼は言います. Then the pandemic made it even more challenging. “You have to know when it’s time to walk away,」と彼は言います.

So Brown took a break and planned his next move. After speaking to his cousin, an engineer at Openreach, which runs the UK’s digital network, he realised the organisation’s apprenticeship programme appealed to him. “I’m someone who’s a critical thinker and I’m ambitious,」と彼は言います. “I was looking for a new challenge, somewhere with stability and somewhere you can grow.”

Brown secured a place on the trainee engineer apprenticeship and enjoyed the structure and routine, as well as meeting people from different backgrounds. “I look forward to going to work, I’m constantly learning, and it’s fulfilling.” A highlight was learning to climb a pole – even though he’s afraid of heights. “I used to enjoy climbing trees and garages as a kid, but the older I’ve got, the more fearful I’ve become. So the first time we did it I was shaking, but my trainer made me feel confident.”

Openreach is one of the largest apprenticeship providers in the UK. “We’re recruiting in every town, every region, almost every village,” says Kevin Brady, a HR director at the company. “We’ve recruited more than 10,000 apprentices in the last three to four years and we underpin that with a massive investment in terms of training, と 11 regional training centres,」と彼は言います.

Openreach is particularly keen to recruit Black, アジア人および少数民族 (BAME) apprentices as BAME workers are underrepresented in the engineering workforce. “We are keen to attract people who reflect our customers,” says Brady.

With four networks in place to bring people together from different backgrounds – Pride, Gender Equality, Ethnic Diversity, and Neurodiversity – which are run by, and for, colleagues, Openreach aims to become a fairer and more inclusive employer.

The organisation also values people with maturity and life experience, such as Brown, and wants to encourage more women to apply. “We’re trying to change the perception that being a telecom engineer is a man’s job,” says Brady. “And we’ve been able to shift the dial and encourage a lot more women into engineering – for example, に 2021, we recruited more than 600 women engineers.”

A recent study by Openreach that put the language used in job adverts under the microscope shows that gender-discriminatory language discourages as many as 50% of female candidates from applying for engineering roles. The study also found that when presented with a gender-inclusive advert, the number of women interested in a role increased by more than 200%, と 60% stating this was because of the way it was written.

At Openreach, 20% of trainee engineer recruits are women – a number the company aims to retain as a minimum yearly target.

One of Openreach’s women engineers, Anita Josephs, 32, joined as a trainee engineer in 2019, after working in an office for more than a decade. “I’d been with the same company for 11 年," 彼女が言います. “And I felt like I wanted to do something different.” So when a colleague shared a post on Facebook, she was immediately interested. “I thought: ‘That looks amazing,’ so I applied and everything was a whirlwind from there.”

After an interview and assessment day, Josephs was offered a place. From learning how to use a gas detection unit, to working with customers, Josephs says she was constantly challenged in a supportive environment. Like Brown, she enjoyed learning to climb a pole. “I was nervous and excited," 彼女が言います. “It was my 30th birthday, so I thought: ‘It’s good I’m doing something exciting.’”

Since finishing her apprenticeship, Josephs has shot up the career ladder and been promoted to field-based coordinator – Openreach employs more than 37,000 people and has a career pathway to give employees such as Josephs a chance to progress. She’s more than happy in her new role. “I don’t get that Sunday evening syndrome," 彼女が言います. “In a way, it doesn’t feel like work, it’s varied and I’m using my brain. I’m constantly thinking of solutions and getting out and about and travelling to places.”

Usman Shabbir, 30, is currently doing his apprenticeship with Openreach in West Yorkshire, after working at a bank as a contractor. “I enjoyed it, but there was no job security,」と彼は言います. Shabbir heard about Openreach through word-of-mouth and it appealed to him for a number of reasons. “There’s flexibility and job security. You can continuously get upskilled. Every day is different. In the office, every day was the same – but now there are challenges.”

Shabbir says it’s been great to work with inspiring engineers during the apprenticeship. “I’ve always had support when I need it,」と彼は言います. The apprenticeship at Openreach, with all its challenges, has given him more confidence in himself. He says he plans to continue upskilling and to move into new roles within the company once he finishes his apprenticeship.

と 7-13 February being National Apprenticeship Week, what advice would the apprentices give others considering a career with Openreach? “I would say to be yourself,” says Brady. “If you’ve got a great attitude, are good with customers and like solving problems, then this is a career that you should think about.”

“Go for it,” says Brown. “Life is too short for regrets.”

Find out more about apprenticeship opportunities at Openreach, and how to apply ここに