JTL electrotechnical learner, Demi Whitehead from William Davis Homes, is one of eight UK-based apprentices to reach the finals of World Skills SkillELECTRIC UK, which takes place next month.
Derbyshire-based Demi, aged 21, is currently completing her electrical apprenticeship with JTL through her employer, William Davis Homes.
Demi began her apprenticeship straight after finishing school and was placed with Midlands housebuilder, William Davis Homes. She’s now been with the company for five years and says: “William Davis Homes is the type of place where people will start their apprenticeship at 16 and stay on. I know one colleague who started as an apprentice and is still working here at the age of 62.”
When asked why an apprenticeship appealed to her, Demi says: “I always wanted to go into the trades. When I was younger, I used to go work with my grandad as a builder and lay bricks with him. He would send me off to do little jobs and I really enjoyed the hands-on side of it.”
During the apprenticeship Demi has studied at one of JTL’s partner colleges in Loughborough in sessions of block leave, embracing ‘college life’, while also working full time.
“As an apprentice, you get treated very differently to full-time students. You go to college in four-weeks of block release, and you have to take it seriously as you’re employed and have a company to impress. You’re also getting paid while learning too, which is always a positive.”
One benefit of the apprenticeship experience for Demi is that it enables her to gain experience applying her learning in real-life scenarios, as well as picking up other trade skills from colleagues working in the construction environment where she’s based.
Commenting on further benefits, Demi says: “I would recommend an apprenticeship to anyone because you get so much support — support from your employer, the college and the training provider.
“At JTL you regularly have reviews. My training officer has previously come on-site to see what I’m doing and always makes an effort to help me when they can. When I found out I was a finalist for SkillELECTRIC UK, my JTL officer saw it and texted me good luck. He didn’t need to do that, but it’s encouraging.”
Demi embraces the challenges that have been thrown her way during the apprenticeship, noting her struggles with the cold winters, especially in her first year on-site. Despite this, she has found the apprenticeship highly rewarding. As a woman in the trade industry, she has expanded her skills and achieved success, even winning Apprentice of the Year at her employer’s internal awards in 2021.
Upon completing her apprenticeship, Demi aims to stay and grow with her employer, William Davis Homes. She also has aspirations to open her own business at some point in the future.
When asked what advice she would give to school leavers who are thinking about taking on an apprenticeship, she states: “A lot of people think they have to go to university and do A Levels, but I’d recommend apprenticeships over anything — I’ve said this to so many people. In five years, I have started from the bottom and built myself up, that’s always positive.”
As one of eight finalists in this November’s World Skills SkillELECTRIC UK competition, Demi acknowledges the task in front of her and is prepared to work hard towards her goal.
“I’m nervous for the final, it’s come around really quick. I’ve recently done my AM2 Assessment, a 10-hour practical that’s similar to the competition as you have to complete different installations. That was really good practice, but I’m going to have to put a lot more work in because I want to get a good result. The training day is set to be very intense, which I’m happy about because I feel like I’ll learn a lot from that.”
Whatever happens, Demi says: “I’m happy that I’ve got this far, but I’m the type of person to put a lot of pressure on myself. When I go into this competition, I want to do the best I can and get the best result.
“I’m excited for the awards, as well as the practical hours doing the installation. I enjoy making it look perfect and then standing back at the end to see it completed. It makes you feel proud.”
Demi’s story shows her resilience and commitment to embracing every opportunity presented by JTL throughout her apprenticeship. Her continued dedication makes her a top candidate for the upcoming competition and an inspiration to aspiring apprentices, school leavers and professionals alike.
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