A former tax inspector who thought he was too old to study an apprenticeship has swapped spreadsheets for skiing, accounts for archery and computers for caving.
Martin Bennett, 54, worked in the Civil Service for 30 years before leaving London for Somerset after he was made redundant.
“I thought because of my age they wouldn’t look at me. But I thought there was nothing to lose,” he explained.
He now works at the Mendip Activity Centre getting hands-on experience as an outdoor instructor and has one day of training a week through the Outdoor Instructor apprenticeship with South Devon College
“I didn’t know what I wanted to do when I left school, I just needed to get a job to pay the rent,” he explained. “I applied for a few jobs and took the first one I was offered. I thought I’d do it for 6 months or a year, I never thought I’d stay for 30 years. But my previous career was steady and stable and relatively well paid.”
There are apprenticeships available across many sectors, including the more well-known such as construction, health and care, but there are more surprising ones available too like sea fisher or chartered manager.
The theme of this year’s National Apprenticeship Week (Feb 6 – 12) is Skills for Life. The week will reflect on how apprenticeships can help individuals to develop the skills and knowledge for a rewarding career and help businesses to develop a talented workforce that is equipped with skills for the future.
Martin is now one of hundreds of apprentices studying through South Devon College.
Matt Harbour, Vice Principal at the college said: “There’s a common misconception that apprenticeships are just for younger school leavers. This year we’ve seen a 6% growth in the number of adults enrolled on an apprenticeship with us which is fantastic, but there is still a long way to go in raising awareness amongst adults that they can too earn whilst they learn across a wide range of sectors, from entry level, right up to degree level.
“Anyone interested in pursuing an apprenticeship should talk to their existing employer or contact their local training provider, who should be able to support them in finding a suitable apprenticeship.”
As well as changing career Martin is getting used to a different work pattern and learning new skills. He’s also in his last year studying for a degree in Environmental Science so he’s got a lot to fit in.
“I’d never done these sort of activities before. I enjoy caving and I never thought I would. I enjoy paddle sports and now I have a skiing, rifle shooting and archery qualification I can take sessions.”
When his apprenticeship finishes in August he hopes to stay on as an outdoor instructor.
“I wish I’d done it sooner,” said Martin. “I’d have enjoyed my lifestyle more being outside.”
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