To uni, or not to uni? That was the question that floated around my head for many years when I was looking for a career change. I finished school and had intended to do a public services course at college. However, after breaking my ankle playing football, I went with cooking and studied an NVQ level 1 in Catering & Hospitality at sixth form with visits to a local MOD site.

From this, I went to college to study for the NVQ level 2 in Catering & Hospitality. After two years of study, I ended up joining the Royal Navy where I stayed for 11 years before leaving due to budget cuts. I spent a few years working off shore until I decided I had had enough of cooking and wanted a change.

I was jumping between jobs as a chef chasing a manager role whilst wondering what to do next. I had ideas to go to the University of Plymouth and study for a Paramedics or Nursing degree - but the fees and student loan prices were definitely putting me off. By the time I would have completed the three-year degree, I would have a debt amounting to around 25k.

I looked into re-training as an electrician, but finding an apprenticeship willing to take on a near 40-year-old proved difficult in the post-Covid business world - as less apprenticeships were available as businesses wanted to keep their costs down.

I found myself working at the Womble Bond Dickinson Plymouth office for the outside Catering team for a couple months, covering for a friend's maternity leave. After just a few weeks, I felt I had settled in well with the welcoming staff at WBD.

I soon learned that a space had opened up in the IT department for an IT apprentice. I hadn’t considered a career change in IT, but it did have me thinking that I do have an interest in it with gaming and using my PC at home, so I went for it - and I got the job.

I started my apprenticeship six months ago - and it was absolutely the right move for me. With the added benefit of being paid while you work and study, without the financial implications of being at university, an apprenticeship at Womble Bond Dickinson really can offer the job security that you want and need when you're considering a career change - at any age.

For more information about our apprenticeship programmes, click here.

This blog was written by Martin Halley, IT Apprentice at Womble Bond Dickinson.

Martin Halley