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Apprentice Exchange Programme

Samantha Jones, JIB Apprentice Exchange 2015

Apprentice Sam reports on USA findings

Comparisons between the USA and UK’s electrical contracting industries have been drawn in a report published by electrician Samantha Jones, following her six-week working visit to New York.

26 year-old Sam was chosen in 2015 to represent the UK as part of the Joint Industry Board’s apprentice exchange programme. During her trip she spent time working with some of the New York’s leading electrical contractors on prestigious sites such as the Empire State Building, Madison Square Gardens and Google.

Sam Jones Apprentice Exchange Report The report, which can be downloaded here, included highlights such as:

  • Sam’s findings on use of steel conduits and conduit installations, including the mathematical workings for bend radius
  • Technical differences in the ways of working between the UK and US
  • The Amber Light Society, a Union group made up of females within the Industry, who work hard to support the union and act as advocates for the working class, champion local causes and teach technical classes at the union hall, among other things
  • The US apprenticeships programme and its structure
  • The Health & Safety Assessment system and the test Sam needed to undertake before working on site in New York
  • Details on Sam’s work placements such as Madison Avenue, Google offices, the Empire State Building and 432 Park Avenue Apartments, set to be the tallest residential tower in the Western Hemisphere.

“Sam made a fantastic impression on our US counterparts and carried out some valuable work during her time there,” said Andy Reakes, Secretary of the JIB Skills Development Fund. “The fact she studied for and passed the lengthy OSHA exam is also a great achievement, so we commend her for her commitment to this task.

“We look forward to launching the exchange programme again to give another apprentice a chance to bring findings from abroad back to the UK.”

Read Sam's blog

During her trip Samantha wrote a blog and uploaded pictures of her adventures – read more here.

Empire State Observation Deck, JIB Apprentice Exchange

What is the JIB Apprentice Exchange Programme?

The JIB Apprentice Exchange Programme was set up by the JIB Skills Development Fund Committee (previously called the Further Education Fund) to promote and enhance individual's learning through cultural exchanges. 

The organisations that have been involved in the Exchange Programme include the New York JIB and Electro Group Training (Brisbane). Shona Rawlins was the first UK apprentice to travel to Australia in 2010, and Thomas Hyland, Balfour Beatty, also travelled to Brisbane in 2013. 

Luke Wheeler, Spie Limited, was the first apprentice to travel to New York in 2012 and Samantha Jones, Melvin John Electrical, followed Luke in 2015 by completing a 6 week exchange.

How to get involved

To be eligible for the exchange, the apprentice must be Stage 3 or Stage 4, registered with JTL, working for a JIB member (who is also a member of the ECA), and the apprentice will need to be a member of Unite the Union.

For the application process, an apprentice will need the endorsement of their employer and the JTL Training Officer. JTL actively seek the best performing apprentices with consistently high scores, who are particularly committed and eager. 

The application form asks apprentices for reasons why they believe they are suitable, but also to offer an insight into how things can be improved in the industry so that the judges can understand the views and experiences of the apprentices. 

The applications will be narrowed down to six individuals who will be invited for interview. Here a panel made up of representatives from the JIB, ECA, Unite the Union and JTL will question the apprentice on their knowledge of the industry, reasons for wanting to be involved, ability to present and will look for those apprentices who are knowledgable, confident and willing to learn.

At present there is no set date for the 2016 Apprentice Exchange but follow the JIB on Twitter @JIBElectrical or the JIB Skills Development Fund at @JIB_Skills_Fund for updates and alerts on when the next application process is open.

For more information about the exchange please contact Andy Reakes at the JIB on 01322 661610 or at a.reakes@jib.org.uk.