Just over two years ago, Laura Fredericks (pictured above) was living in Manchester and working in a call centre.
Today, she’s fixing ship’s engines at a ship repair company in Falmouth.
Laura, 36, is doing an engineering apprenticeship with A&P Group Ltd – and enjoying every minute.
“I’ve always put my husband and children first and left me behind, but I feel now that I’ve given myself a bit of a push and thought – you know what, you can do it,” said Laura, before adding that starting a new career in a new town – and as the only woman in her section – was a daunting prospect at first. But she needn’t have worried.
“Everyone here has been fantastic,” said Laura, a mother-of-two. “They’ve seen me get stuck in and see that I want to be here and want to do the job.”
Laura is doing an engineering apprenticeship at A&P Falmouth in conjunction with Cornwall College. She gets to work on a range of different ships, sometimes alongside the wharf or elsewhere in the dry dock where she helps to carry out a variety of marine repair services.
“I love the people that I work with and I love the job,” said Laura. “I feel as though I’ve grown as a person down here,” she added.
Fellow A&P Falmouth apprentice Hugo Keeble (below), 19, agrees that working and learning on the job has many benefits.
“I was never very good at talking to other people,” said Hugo, who has lived near Falmouth all his life. “I would get on with the job and do it myself, but you sort of learn to talk to everyone else to get more advice from them.”
Hugo is also doing an engineering apprenticeship, as well as attending Cornwall College, and is now in his second year. He says it’s a great way to start a career and build a solid set of qualifications.
“I’d say it’s a really good idea,” said Hugo, advising other young people to think about doing an apprenticeship as an alternative to university. “It gives good, real-life experience of the job which you’re going into.”
A&P Falmouth’s Production Director Darren Rice (below) began his career at the company as an apprentice back in 1987. He knows the value the schemes can bring.
“It’s absolutely essential,” said Darren, describing how new ideas and experiences are a major contributor to the future of any company. “We need to develop people and keep our abilities alive for future generations, maintain our reputation within the industry and enhance the service that we offer to customers to futureproof the business.”
Darren says A&P’s apprenticeship scheme is ‘second to none’, offering people the chance to grow through the business.
“I have 13 project managers who report to me and 11 of them did their apprenticeship with the business and now they’re managing complex, high value contracts,” said Darren. “The opportunities are really there.”