It’s never too late to become an apprentice. Just ask Hucknall plumber Matt Gustard, who has proved it by being named one of the best in the country.
Matt, who is 37, admits that it was a daunting prospect when he decided on a career change at more than double the age of most apprentices.
“If I’m totally honest, I never thought I would get an apprenticeship because of my age,” he said. “I was 35 at the time, and I didn’t think a company would be willing to take a chance on me.”
However, Nottingham City Homes (NCH) did take him on, and now Matt has been hailed as ‘Highly Commended’ in the apprentice of the year category at the National Apprenticeship Awards, which celebrate excellence.
“I am very happy to say I was wrong,” said Matt. “At NCH, my age was seen as a positive, rather than a negative.
“I am so proud to have achieved such an accolade at a national level. I am at the start of an exciting chapter in my life, and I am full of enthusiasm for where my apprenticeship might lead me.”
Matt decided to change careers when, despite a fantastic childhood, a good education and some success in his previous work, he felt he had “lost some focus and direction”.
“Becoming an apprentice is one of the best decisions I have ever made,” he said. “I am now working for a community-based company that gives me hands-on support and guidance whenever I need it.
“I work alongside experienced tradespeople every day on site, improving my knowledge and skills, as well as learning new ones.”
Matt is in his final year as an apprentice plumber. Among the work he has done is manage the renovation of an historic building for a local charity and help repair gardens in Bulwell that had been vandalised.
NCH was also honoured at the awards because the firm was named as one of the top 100 apprenticeship employers in the country, alongside big names such as BT, Lloyds Bank and Centrica.