Rob’s Story

Ihave always been interested in engineering, I was never really sure what part of engineering though. The idea of civil engineering never appealed to me, so I got work experience to help me make my decision. In Year 10 I found a local company who let me do 2 weeks work experience with them. I really enjoyed it and knew that was what I wanted to do. I kept in touch with them and once I had my GCSE grades I contacted them and they offered me an apprenticeship on the same day!

I chose an apprenticeship because despite the range of engineering courses available to me at college and University I already had a relationship with the company, and who I knew would train me as an engineer thoroughly. I routinely work with machinery worth hundreds of thousands of pounds, I’m learning new techniques every day from highly skilled people on cutting edge technology, I don’t regret my decision not to go to University – I’m learning so much more!

I know that although I’m only 18, I’ve gained a lot of qualifications that many graduates wouldn’t get for a few years after getting a position in the engineering industry,  I have GCSE, BTEC, PEO’s, Occupational Health and Safety, Grinding Wheel Certification, I’m working towards by Level 3 NVQ as well as my Level 4 HNC, to be honest the list is endless I’m always working towards another qualification that will enhance my knowledge at Harwin. These qualifications mean that I get to work with cutting edge technology on a daily basis. I am trusted and in my opinion valued and I am allowed to try different things to solve problems.

I am responsible for cleaning and servicing press and mould tools. I can make repairs, modifications as well as fabricate any parts needed to ensure that the tools are able to produce a successful production run when required. Because of this, my day to day work is often very different. Some days I can spend all day using surface grinders to repair punches, others I spend all day stripping down and cleaning parts on my bench. Others I spend all day setting up and running stamping presses. I enjoy the variety most. I am very responsible where I work, if something goes out that isn’t working properly, I could be held responsible and some of the stuff we work on is worth a lot of money!

A lot of managers at engineering companies were apprentices years ago so it definitely stands out on my CV. Additionally, the other qualifications I have such as Machining, Health and Safety etc prove that I have got a broad education whilst an apprentice. It also helps as I have made friends with people from other companies so I have a range of contacts that could be useful to me in future.

On the basis of my experience, I would recommend an engineering apprenticeship to anyone. Talking with my fellow classmates and colleagues none have had a bad experience. Although, we all agree that an apprenticeship can be hard work. Especially when you end up doing more and more qualifications, which are valuable but it can mean doing more work outside of normal working hours. When I first started I was getting up at about 5 in the morning to go to training in Southampton so I was absolutely knackered, but now although I still have to get up quite early I have got into a great routine so it’s fine now.

I did find choosing an apprenticeship difficult at first because I got good GCSE results, all of my teachers and a lot of my family all wanted me to go to University, I was expected to get into Oxbridge so it was difficult for me to choose another career path and defy expectations. Some people were quite negative and not supportive, but I’m now halfway through my apprenticeship and everyone around me supports my decision as they have seen how well this apprenticeship suits me and the great opportunities it is continuing to give me! I’m hoping to get my degree after I finish my HNC and visit a range of companies and shows to continue my professional development. I would definitely recommend apprenticeships – in fact, I did and now some of my friends and even my girlfriend are doing apprenticeships!

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