16/01/2014 11:22 GMT | Updated 25/01/2014 16:01 GMT

Why It's Never Too Late To Do An Apprenticeship

Thomas Dudley Ltd

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Introducing this week’s apprentice..

Name: Laura Smith

Age: 28

Job Title: Personnel Assistant

Company: Thomas Dudley Limited

Training: CIPD L5 Apprenticeship in Applied Human Resources

What's a typical day like for you?

No two days are ever the same in HR. I only work part time 9am – 3pm so once I’ve dropped my daughter off at school and got into the office it’s nonstop. People often stop by rather than calling, which is great because it gives that interaction with staff and managers and we have a policy here where we try to talk rather than email each other. I often have to put on my safety gear to go and update our notice boards with any new announcements so that gives me the opportunity to have a wander down into the Foundry or Plastics division and see what exciting things are going on.

One thing is for sure, HR at Thomas Dudley is never dull, whether it’s the day to day tasks like booking training courses, helping with recruitment or supporting managers with any staff issues they face or the more meaty projects I get involved with like updating our contracts of employment, arranging charity events, helping draft company values brochures or working with the Directors on various projects they have.

What has been the most memorable day of your apprenticeship so far?

I think it was when Thomas Dudley was announced as Black Country Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year, it was just so reflective of all the hard work the people put in here at the company. There was just such a buzz around the whole workplace and it cemented what I already knew about the company. I think it really gave me that extra push to do well in my Apprenticeship so that I could give something back to the company.

Why did you decide to become an apprentice?

I find it easier to learn by doing and being part time as an Apprenticeship suits my work / life balance. I did well in school and got good GCSEs but I didn’t want to go to college full time after being away from education for over 10 years.

What are the best things about being an apprentice?

You’re learning not only from the theory but the practical application as well. I get to learn from some great people here who have real world knowledge and can put what is on paper into a real life example.

What are the best things about working in the industry you work in?

It’s the complete mix of people and roles, we have two separate divisions (Plastic Injection Moulding and Iron Casting) and within the organisation there are so many different jobs, different ages, and different ethnicities. Most people who don’t know Thomas Dudley probably drive past and think oh yeah it’s just a factory down the road but far from it it’s amazing the skills and abilities we have here.

What's the most surprising thing you've learnt during your apprenticeship?

How hard Harvard Referencing is, I think it takes me longer to do the referencing on my assignments than it does to do the actual main writing. I’m determined to crack it though!

What would you say to someone thinking about applying for an apprenticeship?

It’s the best way to learn. Reach out to companies and try doing some work experience so you can get a flavour of different industries before you apply for an Apprenticeship.

What do you think are the biggest myths about apprenticeships?

That they’re only for 16 year olds who don’t want to go to College. I’m 28 and doing an Apprenticeship!

What do you expect to be doing in 10 years time?

I expect to be growing with my company, constantly learning and still attending different training courses so I have continuous professional development.

Why an apprenticeship rather than university?

Definitely, it fits around my home life and I won’t have masses of student loans at the end of it.

What advice would you give someone leaving school or college now?

Don’t rush to find an Apprenticeship, do your research and find one that suits you. Companies invest a lot of time and money on apprentices so be sure it’s what you want to do before committing.

For more information on apprenticeships visit