16th July 2012
Quitting an apprenticeship in 1st Year
What do I remember from my apprenticeship? I have mostly really good memories of my apprenticeship as a fitter and turner except for the 1st year. The 1st year for me was really quite frustrating. I came from a family where my father was a fitter and turner, my brother was an electrician and I spent a lot of weekends before I left high school working in an underground coal mine helping out tradies. I was able to spend that time in a coal mine because my father was the head engineer of that coal mine and he was happy to see me get my hands dirty, so I thought I was pretty advanced for a new apprentice.
The reason I was frustrated in my first six months was that I didn’t think the tradies around me gave me enough challenging work to keep me interested. In hind sight I realise that my supervising tradesmen had to build up their level of trust in my abilities and that I was a 1st year apprentice, and traditionally as a 1st year apprentice you tend to get the crappy jobs. I remember coming home and speaking to my father at about the 6 month mark and being a bit belligerent about wanting to throw it in. Fortunately, he didn’t listen to my whinging but said to me to get back to work and at least give it 12 months before changing my mind. I am really glad that I did. At about the 8 month mark, I started to get more and more work that challenged me and improved my technical and hand skills – and the more I did the more work I got. I still had to do most of the cleaning of different parts as well as the workshop but as any fitter will tell you, you can’t start to repair something until you get it clean and can see where the problem lies.
I really learnt a lot throughout my trade career, not only about machinery and how things work but also about people and how they work. However one of the things that is missing in a trade education is the important part of people skills. At MIGAS we try to address this through our Apprentice Development Program which I am sure will become a blog somewhere in the future. In this Program we take MIGAS apprentices and trainees through some intensive training in personality profiling, communication skills and teamwork.
Even today I am using the skills I learnt as an apprentice, as the skills that you learn in these formative years never leave you. As I often say in my blogs – an apprenticeship and a trade skill is a great way to start your working life, and as many of us know you don’t finish your working life where you start it, but that is where you build your foundations. As far as my apprenticeship is concerned, at the end of my first year guess what – a new first year came in and all of a sudden I was having to teach him all the stuff I knew and I started getting even better jobs. So for those would-be apprentices out there, keep in mind the big picture and that is to finish your 4 years. Give your apprenticeship a fair go, don’t drop out at 3 months or 6 months, tough it out for a while and give it at least 12 months or at least until you get the new 1st year in there so you can hand over the less appealing tasks.
Quitting an apprenticeship