When deciding who should win the Hotcourses Apprentice of the Year award in 2014, the judges were all in agreement that one entry stood out. With a video showing what he does and what his trainers think of him (made by his son as well!) and a written entry showing his clear passion for his job, Keith Fenwick’s story had the judges hooked.
Keith isn’t your typical apprentice. He’s a 42 year old father of five who already has two careers behind him – working in BT for 10 years and setting up his own business. When neither of these panned out the way he hoped, he was forced to rethink and find a new path, ‘I took a good look at where I was, and where I would like to be, and my final decision was to wipe the slate clean and start from the beginning. The first thing that came to mind was getting a trade qualification and go from there, and as far as I was concerned, the best way to achieve my goal was to go down the apprenticeship route.’
It’s this kind of tenacity and dedication to learning that really set Keith apart from the others and demonstrates what a great role model he is.
He’s currently working at IRISNDT in non-destructive testing while he works towards his qualification in mechanical engineering and the judges agreed that going back to education at a later stage in life is certainly a brave move, particularly when most other apprentices are aged between 16 and 19. While there are a lot of differences between Keith’s story and that of the younger people he trains with, he has a lot of respect for the work they do, ‘As an older apprentice, I feel privileged to work alongside these guys and to see their enthusiasm and ability daily. They will all be very successful in their careers, no doubt about it.’
Not only that, he has become ‘one of the guys’ as well, ‘My acceptance into the group has also made my own experience a lot more enjoyable – I’ve made lots of friends!’
This was something else that impressed the judges – in his video, his trainers mention how much his fellow apprentices look up to him.
Many of the apprentice who entered this year cited family members as inspiring them or encouraging them to apply for the award and in that way Keith is no different, ‘My dad worked extremely hard throughout his working life and had many ups and downs. He sadly passed away a while ago, but thinking how he overcame the rough periods made me buck my ideas up and try to change my family’s life! My wife has supported me 100% in my decision to go down the apprenticeship route and has been a pillar of support for me.’
Outside of work, Keith takes an interest in subjects related to his course – showing a true passion for the subject and the judges picked up on this, ‘We were particularly impressed by the fact that Keith had been told to enter by his tutors after they had considered all other students and we could really see in his video how passionate Keith is about his studies,’ said Mark O’Donoghue, MD of Hotcourses.
He’s pretty modest about the interest he takes in his subject, ‘To be honest, I’m a bit of a geek, so I enjoy technical news and science developments; I just like to keep myself informed on what’s going on.’ He has another passion too though, ‘Unfortunately, my other love in life is Grimsby Town FC who I have supported for over 25 years. Trust me, GTFC will keep any person young with the ups and downs that they provide you with!’
For the future, Keith is aiming high, ‘My ultimate goal would be to attain Level 3 in Ultrasonic Testing, and try to advance my career with IRISNDT, with the aim to work in Canada or the US depots to gain as much experience as possible.’
We asked him if he has any advice for other people considering apprenticeships, ‘It really isn’t as daunting as you may think! The application process is straight forward and you will be actively encouraged to keep your options open until you find the position that best fits your skill set. Go for it!’
Jade will talk your ear off about rowing if you let her. She studied an MA and NCTJ diploma in Journalism at Brunel but her course-taking didn't stop there, having tried a number of different subjects since working here, even magic. Whether you're an expert who wants to share their knowledge, a student who's had a great experience or you just want to say hi, she'd love you to get in touch through our social media pages.