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“The pandemic has impacted the traditional way we learn practical skills on-the-job but we’ve adapted and are all continuing to learn”

Faced with the unprecedented challenges and surprises of the past year, Dylan Andrew has turned negatives into positives and progressed with his development, preparing to begin the second year of his apprenticeship.

The 23 year old, from Coatbridge in North Lanarkshire, Scotland, is currently undertaking a four-year apprenticeship with Mears. While many of his peers embarked on an apprenticeship soon after leaving school, Dylan went to college to study electrical engineering, reports the Daily Record.

He said: “It might an unusual way to get your foot onto the career ladder but I have no regrets. I knew I wanted to learn a trade when I finished school and going onto college helped me understand that becoming an electrician was the right path for me.

“And, although it added a couple of years onto my journey, they certainly haven’t been wasted. I knew I was taking the right path and it was my path.”

As his studies at college drew to a close, Dylan knocked on doors and handed out as many CVs as he could.

“I guess handing out CVs and knocking on the doors of companies asking for an opportunity isn’t seen as the typical way to get a job nowadays but I wanted to stand out amongst the crowd.

“When I saw that Mears was taking on apprentices, I became persistent in trying to get my foot in the door.

“Thankfully, my pestering was rewarded when I got a phone call inviting me to an interview. I knew about Mears and the work they do across North Lanarkshire but when I was face-to-face in the interview, and learning more about what the apprenticeship would offer, I knew it was for me.”

Apprenticeships are an “integral part” of Mears’ philosophy and many senior figures within the business today started as apprentices themselves. As Dylan’s interviewers learned more about him, his aspirations and enhanced education, there was no doubt he was the right fit for the company.

From day one, Dylan got his hands stuck in and went to work. Everything was going well – and then the pandemic hit. Work changed almost overnight, but Dylan and Mears adapted rapidly to the new reality.

He said: “Work was great. I was learning how to do electrical testing to ensure houses were safe; it was a deep-dive into how electrical systems worked.

“When Covid-19 came about, it all changed suddenly. The nature of our work was flipped upside down but the company took steps to ensure we continued to be paid and were supported.

“Understandably, the pandemic has impacted the traditional way we learn practical skills on-the-job but we’ve adapted and are all continuing to learn. I’ve been able to pass all my tests so far, which I’m proud of given the circumstances.

“Despite the obstacles, I’m really enjoying my apprenticeship. At the end of the day, it’s how we overcome our challenges and Covid-19 is something that is affecting us all.

“It’s great to know I have a future with Mears. In these times, having a sense of job security and a path to success shouldn’t be taken for granted.

“For anyone looking to start an apprenticeship, I would tell them to get out there, find the opportunities and do what I did; knock on doors and hand out CVs. I’m proof that you don’t always have to go straight from school into an apprenticeship, you can continue learning and go to college.

“An apprenticeship is a journey and it doesn’t matter how or when you get started, we all get to the same goal in the end.”