From helping my mum around the house since I was small, to fixing my own bike, I've always had a passion for understanding how things work and helping out, so I knew that I had to find a job that would be hands-on. But I didn't know how to get there.
I know a lot of young people like me, coming up and facing the job market in 2009 have found it tough. I left my local Community School with eight GCSEs and was studying towards four A-levels at the age of 17, but wasn't sure about my future and where I was heading. I couldn't find any job at all. You name it, I applied for it. So I decided to study a course in plumbing at a local college and got my NVQ level 2.
I enjoyed it so much. For the first time I was able to put my hands-on experience to good use. Careers come in all varieties and need different kinds of skills to match. So I felt I'd found a good fit for me. I was just about to apply for my level 3 when I came across a guy working for British Gas, who suggested I apply for an apprenticeship online. I hadn't really considered an apprenticeship up to that point, but looking back it's made all the difference and brought me to where I am today.
I joined 150 other apprentices at the Academy in Dartford back in 2010 and honestly, it's the best thing I've ever done in my life. The training and the experience the people have there you can't find anywhere else. From the range of different types of boilers in the workrooms, so you can practice and learn hands-on, to the teaching in the classrooms, it beats any college hands down.
I met so many new people and we got the chance to get to know each other better by doing the Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award. As part of that, I really enjoyed the voluntary work and got to help out at St. Raphael's Football Club, an under 12's on my housing estate. Like my job, it made me feel good helping others.
I graduated in April last year and I'm now working as a British Gas Service and Repair Engineer, just half an hour away from my family home. I've still got a support team around me, as there's always someone at the end of the line and I have my laptop on me if I need to get technical assistance, so I can work independently, but know there's always support there if I need it.
I always recommend apprenticeships to my friends and anyone who'll listen! Some of them are graduating now and they can see how I've not only got a well-paid job, but skills and a career for life. Doing an apprenticeship really helped me find that career path and I'll always be grateful for that. So if you're looking for a job, or the next step on from education, then an apprenticeship may be the key to unlocking your future career too.