Today, we spoke with Steve, who at 61 has embarked on a new career as an electrician. He speaks to us about the decision behind his career change and what his plans for the future are.
Bronze domestic installer
What did you do before studying to become an electrician?
I've been in IT support most of my working life. Until I was 'let go' due to budget constraints, I was a Resources Manager in an IT department for over 10 years. I managed a small team of technicians and between us we were responsible for software support, networking, CCTV, telephones and we dealt with anything that had a 13A plug on it.
Why did you decide to train as an electrician?
I've always felt that 'electrics' was something that appealed to me and I'm the sort of person who needs to be doing something useful that I could take some pride in. When I didn't have a job to go to every morning I started volunteering for a charity that repaired furniture for people who didn't have any (Furnistore) and a weekly computer class for elderly people. I wanted a career where, as long as I was capable, I could work 'til I dropped.
What made you choose Trade Skills 4U?
Once I'd decided what I needed to do to become an electrician, I looked around for organisations that provided the necessary courses. I spoke to people on the phone, checked out websites and prices. Not only could Trade Skills 4U provide what I needed at a reasonable price, but they have an 'open house' facility. I popped round and a very well informed chap in the office showed round all the facilities and answered all my questions. All the staff were very helpful, which is comforting when you are starting something new.
What difference has training with us made to you?
Right from the beginning, I got the impression that the staff were willing to help explain what you needed in a way that made sense. It's not all academic learning. The practical hints and tips from tutors who are seasoned professionals give you a great confidence boost.
Were there any elements of the course you struggled with?
Unless you have some previous which I hadn't, the going can be tough. Most blokes think they can do minor electrical work. The important thing is to do it the safe and correct way. It's important to get the most out of the practical sessions and do the theory homework.
What were the highlights of the course?
Working through the sessions with the tutors and a great bunch of students, some of whom were 'newbies' like me. Passing all the exams!
What are your plans now you have finished the training?
Having completed the Bronze course, I am now updating my CV and LinkedIn. I am contacting companies in my area to see if they would be willing to trust me and let me help out. I need to get some practical experience and put my fresh training to good use. After a while, I'll review my situation to see if I need more training to allow me to specialise. Energy efficiency would be interesting.
Would you recommend Trade Skills 4U?
Definitely. The facilities and the staff are excellent and it's easy to get to. When you are investing that much of your own money, value is important.
What’s the best advice you could give to someone who is thinking about changing their career later on in life?
Be realistic. Starting on a new career path is a bit like starting from scratch when you're young, except you have much more experience and maturity to offer. A change in career probably means that you won't have a lot of useful contacts, so you'll need to network. Don't expect to just be offered a job. You need to convince people that you have something of value to them. Be prepared to be flexible in exchange for the experience.
Steve is proof that anything is possible at any age. Although the thought of a career change can be daunting, you will be surprised that when you finally make that leap you can achieve anything you put your mind to.
Steve we wish you the best of luck finding employment.