Tell us about your career path
I began my career working for British Sugar. In 13 years there I held various roles, but spent most of my time as a process control technician. This involved the monitoring and control of the ‘raw side’ of the factory – managing the entire process from the sugar beet entering the site to its transformation to a pre-refinery juice.
I then decided on a career change, which saw me begin an apprenticeship at Perkins Engines. I now work on transmission development within the company’s European Research and Development Centre.
What does your current role entail?
One project I am working on is looking at fuel reduction through energy recovery using a hydraulic kinetic energy recovery system (KERS) within a large engine/transmission package. This project is in association with the Energy Technologies Institute. I’m responsible for running tests, collecting the data they provide and compiling that data into usable reports.
Another key project is looking at using new technologies to improve the cost efficiency of a current medium transmission. My time is split between these projects; building transmissions, function testing them and then performing detailed teardowns and inspections.
Tell us about your most interesting career experience to date?
My transition from a full time skilled role into a developmental role as a first year apprentice was probably my most challenging career experience so far. This move saw me leave a role that I was very competent in, to come into a company at the bottom and work my way back up again. This gave me the opportunity to learn new skills again, especially in such an interesting area as research and development.
Why did you decide to undertake an apprentieship?
I spent a great deal of time in an industry which gave me a broad range of experiences but never gave me any transferable qualifications. Initially, I wasn’t aware that I could undertake an apprenticeship at my age – I thought I would have to start in an entry level role and work my way up again. When I realised that anybody can start an apprenticeship at any age, it gave me the confidence to move into a new career and enter directly into a skilled role.
How did you go about selecting and securing your apprenticeship?
I used the Government apprentice website to search for opportunities that offered a broad range of paths. An important factor for me was choosing an advanced apprenticeship, as I was keen to earn an NVQ level 3 and have the option to continue onto HNC and HND.
A representative visited us during the early stages of our apprenticeship. They explained the advantages of becoming an affiliate member, and the potential to develop this into professional registration after my studies. Having access to the online engineering library is one great benefit that I see myself making use of throughout my career.
What's your view on professional registration? Will you consider working towards EngTech status?
Professional registration is an excellent global measure of your commitment to engineering and competency in your field. I will be pursuing this as I progress through the stages of my career.
Where do you see yourself in five years' time?
In December 2020 I will complete my apprenticeship, and plan to be working within the transmissions development team. I then intend to register as an Engineering Technician with IMechE, and work towards a HNC in mechanical engineering, which will take a further two years. Eventually I want to become a project engineer so I will undertake 6 Sigma green belt training at the same time, before pursuing Incorporated Engineer registration.
And finally, if you could give one piece of advice to a person considering an engineering apprenticeship today, what would it be?
Apprenticeships can be a great opportunity, and if I hadn’t pursued a career in the RAF when I was younger I would have started one then.
You are never too old to benefit from an apprenticeship. I’m 31, but even in my small year group of 14 I’m not the oldest.