Di McEvoy Robinson, Joint Owner, 3aaa - Aspire Achieve Advance

I have had the absolute pleasure of meeting lots of apprentices and employers during National Apprenticeship Week 2018 and I am constantly delighted to hear the stories of how many adults followed their dreams and chose an apprenticeship route over the University pathway.

I was fortunate to share a stage with outstanding people who have all started their careers as apprentices in very different fields. They joined myself and colleagues from 3aaa in celebrating National Apprenticeship Week and their stories sum up the power of an apprenticeship to follow a dream.

Two of the stories in particular inspired me to share how they followed their dreams, despite pressure from family and friends to choose the university route.

Dave Corbin leads the Project Management division of WYG, an international construction company.

He told us all about his own journey from an engineering apprentice to creating a team of 120 Project Managers to meet client needs.

His brother had taken the university route straight from school and brotherly rivalry ensued over the next few years as Dave pursued his qualifications and a degree through the earn and learn route of an apprenticeship.

Dave also had the last laugh as his degree was a first and his brother only achieved a 2:2!

The key message for me – Dave now employs apprentices as he knows the value they bring to employers from his own experience.

You may recognise the name Elizabeth McKenna from the most recent series of The Apprentice with Lord Alan Sugar.

I’ll share the story of how she got selected later. She also spoke eloquently at the event and her story is one to inspire all of us to follow our dreams and never give up.

She was a very bright young woman who had offers to study veterinary science at university, but wanted to follow her love of floristry and chose an apprenticeship.

This enabled her to set up her own business in her 20’s and she has subsequently bought and sold florist shops and is continuing to follow her dreams.

What I loved when listening to Elizabeth talk was the story of how she got on to The Apprentice show.

One night, whilst nursing a large glass of red wine and flicking through her phone, she decided to apply for The Apprentice and boldly stated that she had big feet – used best for 2 things – putting her foot in her mouth and saying the wrong things and most importantly for kicking butt

Well that got her onto the show after a long selection process and she came 3rd in the overall series, demonstrating her skills, knowledge and behaviours, just like all apprentices have to demonstrate outside of the TV show!

She waxed lyrical about the importance of the employer and the workplace mentor in supporting apprentices on their journey and how the discipline of being an apprentice i.e. an employee helped her to follow the dream and open her own shops.

She is now developing and expanding her business and employs apprentices – so she is another great role model who understands the value of choosing an apprenticeship route over a university path!

Following dreams and having the courage of your convictions to pursue the right path often in the face of resistance from parents and others, is often the right choice – so all those people out there considering an apprenticeship over university - GO FOR IT.

Di McEvoy Robinson, Joint Owner, 3aaa - Aspire Achieve Advance

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