Sam Burnett joined City College Plymouth straight from school, studying a two year full-time vehicle maintenance course before applying for an Apprenticeship in car mechanics. He was taken on as an apprentice at H&A Sleep in Bere Alston, where he gained the valuable experience needed to open his own business. He took ownership of his own garage in Stonehouse, Burnett Autocare, in October 2014.
Sam said: “Being a mechanic is something that I’ve always had a passion for; I’ve been ‘tinkering’ with vehicles since I was 14 years old. I’d already attended the College for two years on a full-time basis, studying vehicle maintenance, before I applied for the Apprenticeship. It just seemed the natural choice for me after completing my studies.
“The Apprenticeship allowed me to train in a working garage, where I learnt alongside experienced mechanics. Being an apprentice was of great benefit to me. It’s not an easy job, actually it was really hard work, but I learnt an awful lot. It also gave me the confidence and skills to take my learning to the next level. I decided to train as an MOT Assessor, which I am now fully qualified in.”
While looking for his next move, Sam heard of a garage that was up for sale. After careful consideration and a lot of conversations with friends and family, he decided it would be something that he would like to take on. Sam has now been running Burnett Autocare in Stonehouse since October 2014.
Sam said: “I was initially hesitant about taking on the responsibility of managing a garage. I knew my skills were good enough, but could I take the pressure of running my own business? In the end, I decided to go for it. It’s the best thing that I have done and I haven’t regretted it one bit. It is nerve wracking, but we all work as a team and support one another.”
Having gone down the Apprenticeship route himself, Sam has been working in partnership with City College Plymouth to take on his own apprentice, 18 year old Jordan Evans from Tavistock.
He added: “When I opened the business, the first thing I did was take on an apprentice. It was the best thing for the garage. We have been able to train Jordan as we would like, with our strong work ethic, and he gets the added benefit of learning and earning a wage at the same time. He is hugely reliable, eager to learn and his confidence is growing day by day. I can trust him to do a service now and he is not even on his Level 3 course yet!
“It’s also great to be able to work in partnership with City College Plymouth. They provide Jordan with the skills he needs during his one day per week in the College workshop, which I can then reinforce when he’s back in the garage for the other four days.
“Doing an Apprenticeship was the best thing that could have happened to me. Apprenticeships open up the opportunity to get into the trade, whether that is plumbing, electrics or mechanics, and I wouldn’t be where I am today if I hadn’t taken the opportunity to apply for one. Now, as a business owner, I’m seeing the benefit of Apprenticeships from the other side. Watching my own apprentice grow and seeing the massive advantages he is bringing to my garage.”