How to get a trade apprenticeship Back to Blog

How to get a trade apprenticeship

The purpose of this blog post is to help all the youngsters out there understand a bit more about how to get a trade apprenticeship. I felt the need to write this after we attended a Youth Employment Drive at Dumfries & Galloway College, which was very well organised by the DG Employment TAP.

On the day, it was jarring just how many young people out there want to get into a trade. That said, it was upsetting to see how little they are educated towards getting to their goal.

The harsh fact is this – there are not enough Apprenticeships for everyone.

A bit about my background.

I am writing this from 2 points of view, The Apprentice, (I was lucky to get my Apprenticeship with J.Long Joiners and Builders in Moffat back in 2003 who then retired 2 years later, and I was very luck to be taken on by my tradesman George Hunter (Woody) who then started his business.

The importance of having good tradespeople to learn from is incredible, I learned from many guys that worked with J. Long or George Hunter Joinery, To name a few, Woody, Sean Elliot, Tom Long and Stuart McShannon.

The other view is that of the employer – I moved onto having my own Joinery Business in 2008 and had a number of Apprentices so can relate to what an employer is looking for. Now I’ve finished up my Joinery business and I’m devoted to developing the industry changing www.cost2build.co.uk, it is my mission to make the industry a safer, more reliable place for the tradespeople, the supplier and most of all, the customer.

I hope you enjoy this blog and more importantly i hope it helps some young people get out there and fight for their dream.

It was jarring just how many young people out there want to get into a trade. That said, it was upsetting to see how little they are educated towards getting to their goal

– Scott Galloway, Cost2Build.co.uk


UK Construction Apprenticeship facts from the past year

In the 2013/14 academic year (August-July) There were 440,000 apprenticeship starts in England, Scotland and Wales This is 70,000 fewer than the number of starts in the 2012/13 academic year, but 161,000 more than in the 2009/10 academic year.

The number of apprenticeship starts by people aged 25 and over fell by 69,000 compared to 2012/13, but was still 112,000 higher than in 2009/10. The number of apprenticeship starters aged 24 and under was about the same as in 2012/13 and was 48,000 higher than in 2009/10.

What is a Trade Apprenticeship?

An Apprenticeship is a system of training a new generation of practitioners of a trade or profession with on-the-job training and often some accompanying study (classroom work and reading). An Apprenticeship also enables a Tradesperson to gain a license to practice in a regulated profession.

What is the employer’s view on taking Apprentices?

As employers all over the country are working they are in 2 minds, the first being “yeah i could do with that extra pair of hands”, and the second, “to hell with that. That will tie me down for years”.

So from the employer’s point of view you really need to impress them to make them feel its worth it to give up that afternoon they go golfing or that day they start late.

What do people looking for an Apprenticeship think?

This is where i am going to be really blunt and straight to the point, as for some reason not only most people looking for apprenticeships but most parents and teachers or guidance teachers seem to think that getting a trade is the easy option or maybe just an option.

The customers out there want good tradespeople who enjoy their work, not people who don’t care about it. Being a tradesperson is a very serious job where you will have huge responsibilities later in life, it is not to be taken lightly.

Scott Galloway, Cost2Build.co.uk


What type of employer should I look for?

From my point of view you should be looking for a smaller company, one with, for example, just one Tradesman/Women going up to 4 or 5. This way you can guarantee you will learn from either one tradesperson or from a few. Either way is good, as it is helpful to know the different ways each tradesperson does a particular job. You will often be chucked into the deep end but ultimately this is the best way to learn your trade. If you end up with a huge company you may end up sweeping floors for the first 2 years.

What does it take to be an Apprentice and earn your Trade Profession?

The most important thing, YOU need to want to do it, not your parents wanting you to.

If your heart is not in you won’t enjoy it, and probably won’t finish you apprenticeship. Why waste your own time and the time of the employer? You need to have real drive and determination to get your trade, because that is what you want to do for the rest of your life. If you know this then you will fight to get it. What you need to remember is this – It’s quite possible a few of your mates will be trying to get the same apprenticeship as you. Whoever is most hungry and committed will get it.

How do I get an employer to put me through my Apprenticeship?

If you really do want to get a trade and want to put the work in, please read this next part. If you try something similar, it may pay off for you.

Time to be very blunt and straight to the point. If you answer yes to these questions, my advice is for you to go for it.

  1. Do you really want to be a Joiner, Builder, Electrician, Roofer or Plumber etc?
  2. Are you prepared to put in the hard work to prove this to your future employer?
  3. Have you got what it takes to be able to take the S..t, do the rubbish jobs and be treated like a boy/girl again?
  4. Are you committed to achieving your goal?

If you answer yes, here are some tips for you to try and achieve your goal and become a tradesman/women.

Pick one or two companies, and go and see them face-to-face, not at half past 11 when you have got out of bed or finished playing the Xbox, but first thing in the morning. Get there before the boss arrives and wait for him/her. Explain who you are and what you are and tell them you really would like to be a Joiner or Plumber etc. I can almost guarantee they will say “sorry we don’t have anything just now”.

Don’t Give Up

So what now? back to the Xbox? NO. NO. NO. You get back there, for example every monday morning and every friday morning and show the boss how much you really want to get your trade.

Still getting the big “sorry, still nothing?”, go and sit the CITB entry test and get your CSCS card. Go back see them again and show them what you have done.

Still saying “Sorry nothing”? Keep going and show them that you are not taking no for an answer.

Eventually the employer will look at you and realise you are worth taking as you will have proved to them how committed you are.

It doesn’t end there. Get to work first every morning, and all day, every day, ask as many questions and learn as much as you can.

This will only work for the people that really want to get a trade. If it’s your parents who want you to do it, you’ll still be playing Xbox.

Thanks for reading, and I truly hope this helps some youngsters out there follow their dream and get the trade they want - SG


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    1 Reply


    Thank you so much for posting this article, iv just finished my joinery apprenticeship in Manchester. If i hadn't seen this i honestly don't think i would be a joiner right. I encourage anyone who really wants to be in the trade to have a read. Thank You Brian

    • Scott Galloway


      Glad to heat this helped someone. Cheers Scott

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    0 Reply


    Thanks for sharing such great Article. You really shared such a useful Information with us which helped me a lot and I have bookmarked your page so that i can get to learn new things each time you share any great Information to us. Keep up the Good Work!! Thanks


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