When Dan Cope hit a low in 2014 aged just 24, jobless and spiralling into depression, it was unimaginable that a great career, meeting royalty and award wins were in his future. Three-and-a-half years on, he has completed an NVQ3 extended diploma in engineering, met Prince Andrew twice, and won an Apprentice of the Year award in 2015.
Dan, now 28, can’t thank Midlands-based training provider Performance Through People (PTP) and the Express and Star Ladder Apprenticeship Scheme enough, claiming they changed his life and gave him a passion for learning that surprised even himself.
“I felt worthless,” explained Dan. “All my mates were working and I was on jobseekers’ allowance with no hope for the future. The only work being offered was stuff like packing and assembling, but that didn’t interest me. I felt I had much more to give, if given a chance. When introduced to Performance Through People and its training courses, I jumped at the chance to try something more challenging.”
Dan started his apprenticeship journey on a 15-week ‘introduction to engineering’ course, which included two weeks work experience at PAL Extrusions in Darlaston. The company was impressed with Dan’s attitude, and offered him an apprenticeship. Working at PAL four days a week, with day release every Wednesday to attend PTP’s training centre in Walsall, he worked his way up to complete a Level 3 extended diploma in October 2017.
“I found I loved learning,” added Dan. “After struggling at school, leaving with Ds and Es at GCSE, I never thought study would become such a driver for me – but I love that I’m now constantly learning and picking up different skills in my work.”
Dan has since moved on from PAL, first working as a self-employed tool repairer at Superite Tools in Walsall for eight months, before finding his latest role as tool room technician at Hozelock in Birmingham, which he started four weeks ago.
“It has taken me a while to find the right role because I wanted to find a company that would support me in my goal to keep learning and advancing my skills. I know it’s early days but I’m loving it at Hozelock so far. There are 50 press machines and over 500 tools here that I’m learning to repair and maintain, so plenty to keep me busy. I’m definitely feeling positive about the future.”
Of his apprenticeship providers, he said: “I loved the fact that there was no judgement. I’m covered in tattoos and felt this was a real barrier to me getting a decent job. But PTP looked past that and recognised my potential, and I will be eternally grateful to them for giving me this amazing opportunity.”