Adam Williams started out as an apprentice at Cobra, 5 years later his is Development / Design Manager…
Before you started as an Apprentice at Cobra what was your position?
I was at Shrewsbury 6th Form, just doing A Levels but not really knowing where I wanted to go afterwards, whether it be Uni or this route. I sort of got, not bored with college, but it wasn’t exciting me or anything, I didn’t feel like I was learning as much as I should do so I started to look around and this Apprenticeship came along.
What other reasons did you have for looking into taking on an Apprenticeship?
It was just all the negatives of university, you dig into it and hear from other people and it was always the bad points, there was no definite good point; you come out with bits of debt, its not like you come out of Uni and there is a job, you come out of Uni and you basically have to start from where I was and I seem to be in the same place if not a better place now than mates of mine who went down the Uni direction.
I think Apprenticeships and Uni are a gamble, but this gamble (Apprenticeships) wasn’t a money gamble. With Uni you could come out with 50-60 grand worth of debt and with a degree which is not very good because you didn’t enjoy it and didn’t put all your effort into it, so then you have 60 grands of debt for a bit of paper.
When looking into taking on an Apprenticeship did you have any concerns?
Yes, it was sort of like what’s the progression going to be like, am I just going to be in this one job low down and for how long. Am I going to get progression? Or am I going to be sat in one place?
Looking back were your concerns valid?
I think so yeah. They were valid because they could have happened, but they didn’t, I shouldn’t have worried about them because I worried about them for no reason. But at the same time, they could have happened. I think you must have the right mentality to push, know where you want to be and push for that rather than just hoping it will happen in front of you.
During your Apprenticeship did you get a lot of support from your employer?
Yes! I always say I landed on my feet, quite well really because it is something that I enjoy, it is something that I like doing. I have been given the room to progress as much as I want and not held back.
Did you have any challenges that you had to overcome?
Yes, well everyday is sort of a challenge in doing new things and not knowing it. Also the guy who was doing the job that I do now left and I had to sort of do the job so that was a big challenge.
What benefits did you get from being an Apprentice?
Yes, the student card (cards.nusextra.co.uk) was always good, and you learn your worth, you learn that you can’t just ask for say £15ph, you learn that you have to work hard to show you are worth that.
What is your position in the business now?
I’d say Development / Design Manager, with a bit of sales and marketing. With it being a small business its not something where you just have one job that you do day in day out, which is what I think I quite enjoy. You can be looking at something for ages and then think I am going to go and do something else, which is still part of your job but you can just have a break.
Do you think you would be where you are today if it wasn’t for your apprenticeship?
No, because I honestly think I would have gone to Uni and wasted the opportunity, just because of it didn’t interest me at college so hated the fact I was just sat there and listened to someone who talked and I just wrote notes, I hated all that and I think me not liking it and having the freedom of Uni I would have just ended up never turning up, finding something I would rather be doing. I get distracted quite easily…
You now help Cobra with the recruitment of some of their Apprentices?
Yes, any roles which would involve me for example.
Have you come across any challenges introducing Apprentices into the business?
Not really, it’s one of those things where you have got to have time, it’s not the same as employing someone who knows what they are doing and you can just give them some work, there is time that you have got to put in to be able to grow the other person, which is why they start off on a lower wage. But that is not a negative, it has been fine.
What benefits have Apprentices brought to the business?
You can train people to work the way the business works, rather than have people coming in who have potentially been in a large business and aren’t used to doing lots of little jobs, they are just used to doing one thing. They have more flexibility and you can mould them to the way you want them to work.
What would your advice be to other businesses who are looking into taking on an Apprentice?
I would say if you have the time go for it! Because it gives you people who you want, you can train them how you want them to be trained, rather than trying to retrain somebody. It’s always harder to try and forget things than to learn something from scratch.