Sharon Smith

Case study - Tea time leads to a new trade

It was a faulty kettle that set Sharon Smith, 45, on the path to a new career. Due to a loose connection, the kitchen appliance kept tripping the electrical circuits in her daughter’s house. After a call for help from her eldest, Sharon went to investigate.

Far from being annoyed by the incident, Sharon, from Basingstoke, found that she enjoyed searching for the source of the problem. In fact, it switched her on to a great idea. Although she had been working in a production role, she felt disillusioned and wished she could find a job she felt passionate about. Becoming an electrician fit the bill, but knowing where to start was tricky, since she had no relevant work experience.  

Sharon resolved to ask the team at Sovereign whether they might be able to help, and popped into the Basingstoke offices. She received a warm welcome, with the team ready to provide support, and spoke with Employment & Training Officer, Lauren Green.

Lauren said: “Sharon told me that she’d always enjoyed practical work, but not having worked in the industry it was hard to get a foot in the door. She was so enthusiastic about the thought of becoming an electrician that we organised an informal interview with the Sovereign Response team, which led to two weeks’ work experience.

“We made sure that we properly negotiated this unpaid work with the Job Centre, so that Sharon was not penalised in any way. She was so committed and enthusiastic that after her first fortnight she completed another two weeks’ work, this time with the Voids team.”

Sovereign grant funding was also provided to get Sharon up to speed for her work experience with Portable Appliance Training and driving lessons.

Sharon said: “Shadowing the trades team as they repaired tenants’ houses and the voids team as they made ready empty properties for new occupants was amazing, they were so patient and explained everything to me, I had so many questions.

“I helped wire in extractor fans, heaters, and light fittings, changed a shower and a fluorescent strip light. I’ve also learned about live and dead testing, checking to see whether the home meets safety standards, and repaired switches, sockets, pendants and pull chords. I learned so much!”

Thanks to the experience of working with our teams, Sharon has now applied for an electrician’s apprenticeship with the organisation, and has been told that she has an interview in the next few weeks.


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