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Choose a career in the finishes and interiors sector and you could be working on anything from a state-of-the-art airport terminal or a cool hotel, to a multi-million-pound refurbishment of a Premier league football club.

Some projects might require fire protection or even bomb-proofing being built into the design. Often you will work alongside electricians, plumbers, heating and ventilation engineers and painters and decorators. You might even get to work abroad. Best of all is the choice of career opportunities open to you within the finishes and interiors sector. The skills you acquire as a tradesperson will help you progress right to the top. In fact, many successful managing directors of interiors companies started out as trade operatives first.

The annual FIS President’s Lunch is held at Plaisterers’ Hall in London. On Tuesday 7 February 2017, the winners of the President’s Awards were announced. Apprentice of the Year was awarded to Jack Syddall of Horbury Building Systems Ltd. As a Plastering and Drywall Systems Apprentice, Jack’s ability to demonstrate a high standard of skills development in national competitions was noted and Jack will be representing Team GB in the World Skills Final being held in Moscow in 2018. Watch our interview with Jack after he picked up his award at the President’s Lunch; we hope you will be inspired to become a future Apprentice of the Year winner too!

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What is an apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship is a job, with training. You are employed and paid an initially lower wage to perform a particular role, with an understanding that you will be trained through experience and qualifications to perform the role to a defined standard. Your employer will give you tasks to perform, and the training provider will give you the skills to perform those tasks.

An apprenticeship gives you hands on experience, training, a salary and the opportunity to gain qualifications while you work. The opportunity to combine work with study and earn while you learn.

What type of apprenticeships are available

There are a wide range of apprenticeships available across construction.   Those specific to the fit-out and finishes sector are:

Craft apprenticeships

  • Access Floorer
  • Ceiling fixer
  • Dryliner
  • Partitioner
  • Plasterer

Graduate opportunties

Options for graduates wishing to work in this specialist sector are increasing. Young professionals, who would like to pursue a career in construction, should consider a general degree like building, quantity surveying or project management and then look into employment opportunities either on their year out in industry or as they leave university.

How to register to become an apprentice

Becoming an apprentice can be the start of a career that can last a lifetime. To register for an apprenticeship or to find out more about how to become an apprentice, fill in the online application form at www.citb.co.uk/bconstructive. The form is simple to fill in and complete. On your application, you can choose up to two trades or crafts that you’d like to do your apprenticeship in.

If you have already approached an employer for your apprenticeship, you will need to add their details onto your application form. Your CITB Apprenticeship Officer will call them and get the arrangements for your apprenticeship started. The CITB Apprenticeship Officer will call if they find a vacancy that matches your skills, but you should also keep looking for an opportunity as well.

How to find an employer

Starting an apprenticeship is even easier if you have an employer who wants to take you on. This could be a small or large business, a local firm, a family member or a self-employed person.

If you haven’t got an employer yet, don’t worry. There are lots of ways to find somebody who wants to hire you as an apprentice:

  • Search online for vacancies in your area
  • Visit your local college, specialist provider or apprenticeship managing agency to register your interest, they may be able to help you find an employer
  • Search for local fit-out and finishes companies online and send them a CV and covering letter asking for an apprenticeship.
  • Ask around – maybe one of your friends, family members or neighbours has an opening at their place of work. You could even pop requests through people’s letterboxes on your street
  • Keep an eye out for local construction sites or vans, and make a note of the details of the companies. Then, send them your CV and covering letter asking for an apprenticeship
  • Check the local jobs pages for opportunities advertised by local employers

When speaking to employers, let them know that, depending on their circumstances, they could receive up to £12,000 in grants from the government or Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) for taking you on. This will help them to meet the costs of employing you.

Interview Hints and TIps

  • If you are offered an interview, do some research about the company and think of questions that you could ask them.
  • Dress smartly for your interview and aim to arrive at least 15 minutes before your interview time to give your potential employer a good impression.
  • If you’re successful in your interview, your CITB Apprenticeship Officer will organise your enrolment with a specialist college or training provider and coordinate all the other arrangements of your apprenticeship.
  • Remember, employers are looking for punctuality, reliability and having a real interest in the job, coupled with a willingness to learn. Any experience which you can bring to the work involved will be an advantage.
  • Talk to friends and family who might know something about the job and learn as much as you can about the work.

Further Guidance