A former chef from Penzance has opened career doors after undertaking an apprenticeship.

Jamie Sperring has been able to do a change of career in his dream profession because of a Multi-skilled Trade apprenticeship with housing association LiveWest.

The 39-year-old joined the company in 2016 in the Customer Service team after having worked as a chef for many years.

After moving to the Service Charge team, he knew he wanted to give tools a try and that a more practical job would suit him.

Up until this time, the opportunity hadn’t come up but then he saw LiveWest were advertising apprenticeships with no upper age limit, so he grabbed it with both hands.

He’s now two years in and encouraging others that it’s never too late to pursue a passion and make a career change.

Jamie said: “I was a chef, but I had done car mechanics at college but it’s also a hobby of mine that I do in my spare time. I would say I’ve been more directional down this line of work, but it really came to light when I bought a house in 2019.

“We had to do quite a lot of the work ourselves just to keep costs down and I found I really enjoyed it, the problem-solving of it was my favourite. So far, it’s needed a lot of work probably more than we realised but it’s given me the opportunity to try different things.

“I’ve always given something a go and I will always try and do something myself. I would like to say I can turn my hand at most things, but you can’t do everything obviously.

Jamie found it difficult to find an apprenticeship because of his age but he credits LiveWest for opening the opportunity to everyone regardless of their previous skills or age.

He is studying one day a week at Cornwall College, Cambourne Campus, alongside the job as he is doing both plumbing and heating so his apprenticeship takes four years to complete.

Jamie added: “It’s nice that everybody in the team has welcomed me and no one has made me feel as if I’m not part of the team or say why are you doing this apprenticeship so late? We can just have a laugh about it. 

“My mentor is 25 and I’m nearly 40 so we do have a laugh with the customers when they meet us and I’m the apprentice, but it’s been really good.

“We've been questioned by the college whether we would ever want to go out and work for ourselves and some of the groups have said yes to that and I think ‘oh no, that's far too scary for me’.

"With a company, if you're not sure of something, you've got someone to ask. If you're out working for yourself, you've literally got no one.

“We've got a lot of additional support and so if you freelance you've got all of that you would lose and the training we get. It's quite good to knowledge share with the other operatives as they might have had the experience in resolving the problem before.

“For years I never knew what I wanted to do. But I enjoy this job, I enjoy the problem solving and doing hands- on work is definitely for me.”

The company is celebrating National Apprenticeship Week, starting on February 5, an annual campaign backed by the government.

This year the theme is ‘Skills for Life’, encouraging others how apprenticeships can provide a variety of skills for a rewarding career. 

Jamie added: “I would say it’s never too late to figure out your career path as I thought it was unusual being so late into it.

"I was worried about that and am I going to be the only one leaving this so late, but as it turns out, talking to a few of the other operatives they’ve also changed their career late on too. 

“The fact that there is no age limit on an apprenticeship with LiveWest is great because back when I was starting out, I thought I had missed the boat as only 16 -17-year-olds were employed so it’s great the company accepts any entry but also, it’s a decent wage for an apprenticeship.

“I’m at a time in my life where I have bills, I couldn’t just drop everything to do further education, it just wouldn’t be an option for me. 

“So, the apprenticeships been brilliant financially and being able to learn at college means you’re putting everything you know into practice.

“I wouldn’t have worked for LiveWest as long as I have if they weren’t a good company to work for. I do think it’s a good match for me, it’s certainly the happiest I’ve ever felt at work. It’s not like any other job I’ve had.”