The 55 year old apprentice

Published on 05/03/2019

The 55 year old apprentice_ Peter Beardall returned to his alma mater Barking _ Dagenham College during National Apprenticeship Week 2019 in reception area 2 (002) cropped

Peter Beardall has just started an apprenticeship – at the age of 55! 

Traditionally, apprentices have been young people starting out in their careers. Peter is one of a new breed of mature apprentices who are changing careers or upskilling in their 40s, 50s and 60s.

In fact, at Peter’s company, charitable housing association L&Q, this years’ group of apprentices have an average age of 45.  The 16 men, all maintenance technicians, were offered the opportunity to gain a qualification with Barking & Dagenham College.

Peter first stepped foot in Barking & Dagenham College 40 years ago at the tender age of 16, when he studied carpentry.

The College is currently training 143 apprentices who are aged over 25, representing nearly a quarter of all their apprentices. Prior to 2017 all of their apprentices were under the age of 25.

The increase the College is reporting can be put largely down to major changes in Government policy:

Firstly, the Government introduced the Apprenticeship Levy, requiring businesses with annual wage bills of £3m or more to pay 0.5% of their payroll cost into a training fund, which they can then draw on.

Secondly, in 2017 they scrapped the maximum age of 24 years for apprentices, enabling people of any age to do an apprenticeship. It’s meant that companies can now also use their training funds to upskill their existing workforce.

John Lewis, Sales Director Apprenticeships at Barking & Dagenham College, which trains the L&Q apprentices, explains: “We are really starting to see the age of all our apprentices increase, which is brilliant. After all, with people having to work for longer before they can retire, being able to get an apprenticeship and start a new career at any age is a great option.”

Apprentice Peter Beardall said: “I’m going to be 56 soon, so this training will be useful for me both in the workplace and if things go wrong at home! It also means that I can keep myself active when I retire.

“I think everyone should give it a go. You are never too old to learn new things, and it can only be beneficial.”

Matthew Corbett, Director of the L&Q Foundation, added: “We are delighted to offer our employees that chance to learn new skills to help them progress in their careers. Everything we do starts with social purpose, and future-proofing our employees so that they can feel secure is a vital part of this. Talent has no age limit, and we are proud to nurture and develop all of our staff, regardless of what stage of life they are at.”

L&Q and Barking & Dagenham College are launching their new Construction and Maintenance Skills Centre on Tuesday March 5 to coincide with National Apprenticeship Week, which begins on March 4.