Fresh from his success as JTL’s National Apprentice of the Year, Mitchell Shore met with Craig Hurring, JTL’s Head of Marketing and Communications to talk about why he chose to take an apprenticeship, his experiences while learning and his ambitious plans for the future.
Mitchell, congratulations again on winning JTL’s National Apprentice of the Year award, how did you feel when you heard your name called out as the winner?
It took a few seconds to sink but then I realised, wow it’s me! It was such an emotional and exciting feeling. It was such a humbling experience especially with such a worthy group of fellow finalists – any of the 6 us could have won.
I know you could have gone to college and studied more, so why did you choose to take an apprenticeship instead of staying in education?
While I've always enjoyed learning and doing my studies, my passion has always been to be hands-on and practical. By following the apprenticeship route, it allowed me to follow both paths, gaining practical experience while getting paid for doing what I enjoy.
Earning while you learn is definitely an attractive benefit. So what was it specifically that appealed about an electrical apprenticeship of all the higher apprenticeships out there?
From a very young age, I've always been interested in electrical equipment and how it works. When I started to look into which type of career I wanted to go for, it became apparent the electrical industry were crying out for good quality graduate engineers.
How did you find your apprenticeship? Was it easy?
Absolutely not! I sent out 180 applications and CVs for apprenticeships across Derbyshire and fortunately after attending many interviews and aptitude tests I was offered several positions. The whole process was very time consuming and quite daunting.
How important was your JTL Training Officer during your apprenticeship?
I originally started as a full-time student on Derby College’s two-year electricians’ course but left after the first year to take up an apprenticeship in M & R Electrical in Burton-upon-Trent. While with this company I gained my level 2 and 3 qualifications under the guidance of my JTL training officer Peter Bunting. Peter was a great mentor and gave me both guidance and confidence throughout my 3 year apprenticeship.
Following your apprenticeship you took the brave decision of starting up your own electrical business. How challenging was this and how did your apprenticeship help?
It was great fun, really exciting, but it was a little scary going into the unknown. Thankfully I had some great support from my friends and family, who all pulled together to help me and I am truly grateful to them all.
My apprenticeship had taught me a lot in terms of electrical practice and theory, but also gave me a chance to understand on site how the profession worked. This is an experience I wouldn’t have had if I’d stayed on at college which proved invaluable when I took the decision to set up my own electrical contracting business.
Many parents might not understand the diversity of an electrical apprenticeship in terms of where it can take you. What’s the most interesting job or place that you’ve worked in during your apprenticeship or since starting up your own business?
Yes, you’re right, I’ve been lucky to work in lots of places in lots of industries and locations, but I think the one that most stands out was when I spent several weeks working in London installing complex lighting systems in some of the UK’s most prestigious art galleries.
So what does the future hold for your business, Lecaw Electrical? I hear you have some ambitious plans now you are a professional electrician?
That’s right. I have put together a robust 3 year business plan, which is focused on growth in 3 key areas: Domestic, Commercial and Industrial. I have already taken on new staff and won some key strategic contracts in Derbyshire. My goal is to exceed £1m in sales by 2018, by which time I intend to be taking on my own apprentices too.
We will watch your success with interest, Mitchell! One last question - what advice would you give to school leavers who might be uncertain about taking an apprenticeship?
Give JTL a call or, if you can, go and attend one of their apprenticeship open days, they are both informative and very interesting. You will never look back and once you start the journey, the world is your oyster …