JTL Blog

The start of something new: introducing our apprentice journey blog series

Darke & Taylor apprentices

Have you heard the exciting news? We’re launching a brand-new blog series!

Developed in collaboration with our excellent, long-time partner – Darke & Taylor – our latest blog series will document the progress of three young learners on the JTL apprenticeship scheme.

Charting every step of their journey towards qualification – from their time on the JTL Traineeship programme to their on-site apprenticeship training at Darke & Taylor – the blog series aims to supply readers with not only an unrivalled insight into the apprenticeship experience, but with a greater understanding of the scheme’s benefits for both learners and employers.

To prepare you for our upcoming series, watch our film [above] where our three apprentices, Charlie, Jay and Max speak about their hopes and aspirations as they start out on their apprenticeship journey. They also explain how the JTL Traineeship programme played a big part in getting them to this point.

Continue reading below to learn all about Darke & Taylor and to find out more about each of our apprentices. And, don’t forget to check back in with us in Spring 2022 to discover how they’re getting on in our first instalment of the blog series.

Introducing Darke & Taylor 

Based in Long Hanborough, Oxfordshire, Darke & Taylor is a highly experienced electrical engineering company which offers a range of specialist services, including electrical installation, building services design and mechanical system maintenance, to a variety of clients across the public and private sector.

A long-time advocate of the JTL apprenticeship scheme, Darke & Taylor have long recognised the value of training and retaining young talent, with their workforce and management team comprising many former apprentices. Although aware of the potential advantages of the Traineeship programme for apprenticeship hopefuls, this is the first year that Darke & Taylor’s apprenticeship intake has included learners from the JTL Traineeship scheme.

As Keiron Richmond, Director of Darke & Taylor, said: “In the past, we often directed learners to the Traineeship scheme who we thought weren’t quite ready for the intensity or demands of an apprenticeship, but hadn’t really thought more about how transformative the experience could be until we interviewed Charlie, Jay and Max. They completely outperformed all of our expectations – their passion, eagerness and commitment to the industry is something that we always look for in our prospective apprentices and it was wonderful to see it in such abundance in all of them.

“The experience really forced us to look at the Traineeship route in a new light. Coming straight from school, it can be incredibly challenging for our young learners to adapt to the working hours and the demands of the apprenticeship scheme. I think that the Traineeship programme provides a vital bridge between the two phases – it gives apprenticeship hopefuls a taster of what is to come and ultimately helps instil in them the basic knowledge, diligence and confidence that they all need to get the most out of their apprenticeship experience. I for one am so looking forward to seeing how our young apprentices progress.”

Meet our apprentices 

8-year-old Charlie Stratton, from Banbury, Oxfordshire, was originally studying for a media course at Banbury College when he signed up for a 10-week JTL Traineeship programme with Darke & Taylor in February 2021. Practically minded and pragmatic, Charlie often found that his full potential was not brought out by the more traditional, academic environment. Interested in pursuing a career in the trade industry, Charlie saw the JTL Traineeship programme as a valuable entryway into an eventual apprenticeship in the electrical engineering sector and has enjoyed the opportunity it has given him to gain a more hands-on learning experience.

As Charlie himself says: “Doing the JTL Traineeship scheme has allowed me to gain the basic skills and knowledge I need to do well on my apprenticeship, as well as a greater interest and passion for the industry. I have always liked working with my hands but never found that my more practical skills were tested or developed in school. I’ve also, as a result, struggled to find a job or career path that really interests me. Discovering the JTL Traineeship scheme, however, has given me the opportunity to identify both a career where my abilities and interests can be used, and a target that I can work towards. I cannot wait to become a qualified electrician and to be able to see myself and my career develop from there.”

Charlie Stratton








17-year-old Jay Swales similarly found the Traineeship experience an invaluable opportunity to learn and grow. Having completed two weeks at a traditional educational college, Jay quickly learnt that the more conventional university route was not for him. Keen to find something that he would enjoy doing for the rest of his life, Jay undertook his Traineeship with Oxford Spires Electrical as a way to explore his career options. Much like Charlie, he found the programme gave him a great insight into the electrical engineering sector, as well as into the JTL apprenticeship scheme.

Jay comments: “The blend of JTL training and on-site work experience really helps prepare you for the apprenticeship programme. The learning that you will have to do over the four years on the course is immense, so to be able to give yourself a head start by gaining some of the fundamental basics was brilliant. As part of the Traineeship scheme, we were given tailored lessons on how to write a successful CV and perform well in interview, which was a great help for me when I eventually went on to apply for an apprenticeship programme.

“The advice and support that our JTL tutors also offered us when it came to finding an apprenticeship company was invaluable – it pointed me in the direction of Darke & Taylor and gave me the company-specific knowledge I needed to perform well in the interview. Having started my apprenticeship, I can honestly say that my JTL Traineeship scheme was an essential first step for me into this career sector and has really allowed me to ease into this next phase of my learning.”

Jay Swales








Like Jay and Charlie, Wantage-based Maxwell Moss was originally enrolled at a traditional educational college and in the process of studying for his A-Level qualifications when he realised that he wanted to pursue a more practical form of learning. Having been recommended the JTL Traineeship scheme by a friend, Maxwell applied and undertook his Traineeship in March 2021, with four weeks work experience being spent at The Oxford Electrical Company. 

 Speaking on the experience, Maxwell said: “Doing the JTL Traineeship scheme has given me such an excellent pathway into my apprenticeship and has really helped set me up for my future career. The blend of JTL training and on-site work experience has given me a control over my learning that I never had in school and has helped show me how my more practical skills and abilities can be applied. The opportunity too to earn as you learn – where you are essentially being paid to train and gain on-the-ground work experience – is a real highlight for me. Whatever happens in the future, I know that this apprenticeship scheme will give me the transferable skills, knowledge, and qualifications I need to go anywhere. I am really excited to see where I go from here.” 

Maxwell Moss








So, that’s from Charlie, Jay and Max for now. Remember to come back in the Spring to find out how they’re getting on!


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