simon hayter

An entrepreneurial apprentice

Simon Hayter, 24, from Dorset, applied for a place on an apprentice gas course after leaving school and by 20 had set up his own company. Here he shares his story…

In the current economic climate, where average student debt is predicted to hit £53,000 following tuition fee rises, alternatives to university are becoming more relevant than ever. With more employers looking for proven experience and practical skills, university may no longer always be the best choice.

This proved to be the case for Simon Hayter who is now running a successful business, Pure Gas, after taking a course with ATL (Apprenticeship Training Limited).

Developed to increase the number of well-qualified, credible professionals within the building services engineering sector, ATL offer a range of courses including plumbing, electrical, gas and renewable energy.

Wanting to gain hands-on experience

“I took A level law but after the exams I decided university wasn’t for me. I found myself learning to pass exams rather than learning for skills in life,” Simon explains. “My uncle had a successful business and I wanted to follow in his footsteps. I had enough of doing paper work and wanted to be more hands on and found I could do that with an ATL course.”

Simon had often heard how everyone was looking to find a “good plumber” so he started with the ATL plumbing course.

“Through my course, that also included gas installation, service and maintenance, I saw the importance of gas,” he says. “The gas apprenticeship allowed me to gain the necessary qualifications and correct professional knowledge I needed while I could train on the job. Completing the apprenticeship gave me real-life experience on the job too.”

Setting up a business whilst training

Because of the flexibility of the course Simon was able to set up his own business alongside training.

“I had finished my level 2 Corgi Registration when I set up my company. This was also while working for my previous employer. As I began my level 3 NVQ I then went fully self-employed. The reason I decided to do this straight away was because if it was a success I knew it would be great for me. However, if it failed I had nothing to loose, no mortgage or bills, so it was far less a risk.

Hard work and determination needed

Starting up his own business meant hard work and lots of drive and determination.

“Of course there were times of stress but the drive got me to where I am today. I bought my van and tools and worked every hour I could. I worked days, nights and at the weekend. Any job was a bonus and that's how I built my business so quickly. I feel I am now ahead of those my age that decided to take the university route.

“I’ve got no student debts hanging over my head, have built up a successful business and was able to buy my own home last year. I even took on an apprentice myself so we could complete work quicker and he is about to qualify himself. This will be the next expansion stage. I have also taken qualifications in oil and Calor gas. Pure Gas is now OFTEC, Gas Safe, and Worcester Bosch accredited.”

Go for it!

Simon is proud to share his success story, and wants to tell any young engineers with an entrepreneurial streak that they should embrace their passions.

“If you have a dream, then go for it. From experience I can tell you it's not always easy and to be a success you'll need to be determined and driven to work hours you'd never thought you'd be capable of, but running your own business is fantastic.”

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