By Tessa Ogle, Managing Director of the Electrical Industries Charity
No matter how old or young you are, once in a while we all need a helping hand to help us to overcome the challenging situations in our lives and build a better future for ourselves. More and more young people in the industry are choosing to build a career and create a better life for themselves through apprenticeships, but for some young talent, this is not an option.
Currently, there are a lot of young stars who are unable to pursue their dream career due to unforeseen circumstances in their lives. This could be due to many different reasons; some may have an illness that it is standing in their way of having a brighter and happier future, others may be caring for a loved one or they may just simply not have enough income to create the life they deserve.
The Electrical Industries Charity understands the importance of support network for young people and their families in our industry and therefore, launched the Apprentice Support Programme which helps them to overcome the obstacles that may be in the way of creating a pathway to a promising career.
The Apprentice Support Programme allows apprentices to get the essential support they need to keep going towards their goal. The support that the Charity provides includes career development and transition assistance, debt advice, financial assistance, legal advice, apprentice scholarships and bursary scheme, financial grants and assistance, and support for carers.
One of the recent examples where the Apprentice Support Programme gave hope to a young apprentice is Jack Terrins story. Jack is in his first year of his apprenticeship and lives with his mum Fiona who is recovering from breast cancer, having undergone a lumpectomy and chemotherapy. Fiona’s treatment has been very debilitating and because of the type of cancer she has, the next five years are crucial. As a result, Fiona has now taken retirement from work due to ill-health.
At the age of 21, Jack now has a role caring for his mum. In the past two years he helped his mum on her cancer journey, and although there are a lot of cancer charities and nurses who were willing to provide emotional support, there was no financial assistance available to help Jack and his mum to pay the household bills when his mum was no longer working.
Although Fiona now receives a pension, the only salary coming into the household is Jack’s, which has to be used to pay not only for household bills but also the insurance and equipment which he will need to complete his apprenticeship.
Jack has applied for and been granted the Electrical Industries Charity’s first Apprenticeship Bursary which will allow him to pursue his career while also helping him to care for his ill mum.
Another great example where the Charity helped a young apprentice to pursue his dream through the Apprentice Support Programme is Billy’s story. Twenty-year-old Billy was diagnosed with bone cancer in the final year of his apprenticeship, which was extremely aggressive and required a life-saving amputation. Billy’s family, local community/businesses, and the Electrical Industries Charity were able to fund a prosthetic limb collectively. Billy’s journey back to independence is led by a strong desire to complete his apprenticeship.
With a looming skills shortage in our industry more needs to be done to support the new talent coming into the sector. The Charity understands that an apprentice going through a rough patch at home, that puts their work performance at risk, needs support to allow progression, and achieve a lifetime of productive, satisfying work. The Apprentice Support Programme was therefore, set up for young future stars like Jack and Billy because the Charity wants to ensure that the young apprentices of the electrical industry get the crucial support they need in situations like this.