James Cassin is a sign building apprentice for Nordis Signs, which is a part of Kier Highways and offers meaningful employment opportunities for people with disabilities. Here, James talks about how he is doing his apprenticeship alongside volunteering with the Sea Cadets.

“Throughout sixth form I knew that I didn’t want to go to university. I decided that an apprenticeship was a great way to get professional qualifications at a company where I could hopefully build my career.

I knew that I wanted something practical and hands-on, and the Kier apprenticeship offered good support, a safe working environment and plenty of opportunities for development. Working at Nordis Signs means I can stay local to home and continue my volunteering work, which is very important to me.

I spend most of my spare time volunteering with Sea Cadets, a youth charity that gives young people aged 10-18 qualifications and life skills based on the customs and traditions of the Royal Navy.

The training I had as a cadet has helped me become the person I am today, and I enjoy giving back by volunteering as an instructor and helping young people prepare for the world after school. I'm currently taking part in several instructor development schemes, which have so far really helped me develop the skills I need in my job, especially in communicating considerately with any of my colleagues who may have a disability.

I’ve recently been working on signs for Kier projects in Birmingham and Suffolk, and I enjoy the satisfaction of completing a large project, especially when I recognise some of the work I’ve done while I’m out and about.

An apprenticeship helps you build so many practical and personal life skills. My apprenticeship means I’m getting formal qualifications, but also means I’ve got access to courses like first aid and manual handling, as well as the opportunity to apply for machinery licenses. All of these will help me as I build my career.

An apprenticeship is a commitment, but one that leads to lots of opportunities and opens different career paths. If someone is looking at an apprenticeship as the next step for them, I would definitely recommend researching companies and what they do before you apply, so you know it’s somewhere you’d be interested in working at long-term.”

To find out more about apprenticeships at Kier, click here.


Watch an interview James gave to careers advice organisation Learn Live about his apprenticeship