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From apprentice to member of the green apprenticeships advisory panel

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By now, you may have heard about the Institute’s new green apprenticeships advisory panel (GAAP). This panel will play a crucial role in advising on how existing apprenticeships could be made greener and highlight any gaps that could be filled by brand new green apprenticeships. It will help to ensure that all apprenticeships help achieve the government’s goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Tammy Bristow, Operations Manager of Uniper Engineering Academy and member of this brand-new panel. We spoke to her about her career journey, why she is so passionate about apprenticeships and where her passion for sustainability first sparked.


I chose an apprenticeship…

At 16 years old, after completing my GCSEs I had no idea what I wanted to do next.

Careers advice wasn’t great. I was expected to receive “good grades” and so was encouraged, by my teachers, to do A Levels. With that advice, I went on to sixth form and studied business, law and sociology. I’ve never been the most academic student; I much prefer learning by doing. At the end of two years, when all of my friends went off to university, I chose an apprenticeship.

I really enjoyed business studies at college and so secured a level 3 business administration apprenticeship. I loved every second. I continued to learn the theory whilst being able to put that into practice in a real-life job (and get paid!). All of a sudden, learning became easy.

Qualifications that support entire generations

I finally found my passion in learning and development.

After 11 years, I made a difficult decision to leave the employer I had been with since I was 17 years old. I didn’t know anything else. I was nervous (to say the least) but I knew I had to make the move if I wanted to progress my career.

In my new role, I was responsible for supporting individuals to gain important engineering skills and qualifications. I also had the opportunity to input into the development of a number of apprenticeship standards and industry qualifications that would support entire generations in forging their own careers.

Every time an apprentice completes their apprenticeship, I have a “proud parent” moment. When you get a “thank you” for helping students achieve qualifications that will help them gain a promotion, you can’t help but smile! Even though, in reality, they did all the hard work.

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Today I find myself the Operations Manager of Uniper Engineering Academy. I work with an exceptional team that delivers skills and knowledge to the next generation of engineers who will help us achieve a zero-carbon future. That makes me very proud.

Why apprenticeships?

My passion for apprenticeships is directly linked to my experience. As an apprentice, you can earn money, gain invaluable work experience and achieve nationally-recognised qualifications, all at the same time. I mean, why wouldn’t you?

When I chose an apprenticeship, people assumed I was giving up on any career ambition I had. How could I ever be successful if I didn’t have a degree? But it’s the entire opposite. An apprenticeship wasn’t me giving up on my career ambition. It was about finding a way to continue in education whilst securing an exciting career, that I love, in a way that suited my learning style. That is the message that I want everyone to hear.

An apprenticeship was absolutely the right choice for me. I was never a great academic, and I couldn’t see how I could apply what I was learning to real-life situations, because I had no experience. The apprenticeship did that; being able to learn and connecting that knowledge to how I did things at work was so insightful. All of a sudden, I was engaged and excited about studying… it became real and ignited a passion and motivation inside me to be the best I could be.

Green apprenticeships advisory panel

Working in the power sector, I see first-hand the challenges we face to deliver green energy to the UK in a way that we have never done before.

The energy and utility sector is facing unprecedented change. As we work to achieve a zero-carbon future, we are also facing skills challenges that will require us to recruit and train 277,000 people over the next decade. Apprenticeships are an excellent way for us to develop and nurture these important engineering skills and qualifications from a grassroots level. We are also giving learners an opportunity to play their part in nurturing a healthier planet.

Our industry is moving so quickly. We are having to nurture skills for jobs that haven’t even been invented yet… and that’s mind-blowing. Where do we even start?!

Being part of the green apprenticeships advisory panel will really help us to define the apprenticeships we need to secure the skills to deliver a green economy. The work undertaken by the GAAP is not only important, but the careers we are identifying on the horizon are so exciting and groundbreaking…. and being able to help shape that is a real privilege.

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