Meet the Apprentice
By now you may have an understanding of what an apprenticeship involves, but find out what its really like from an apprentice currently employed as an engineering apprentice.
Name of Apprentice: Erin
Name of Company: Flakt Woods Ltd
Job title, Apprenticeship level and job responsibilities
Lean Engineering Apprentice - Level 4 HNC & NVQ
- Implementing continuous improvement ideas
- Ensure 5s is met throughout the factory
- Work with the Manufacturing Services team to solve problems
- Attend supplier meetings
- Create CapEx requests
What do you enjoy most about your job?
- Working with an amazing team who give constant support whether it be for work or for my qualifications
- Getting to travel on occasions, to visit new machinery suppliers.
- Implementing new and innovative ideas and watching them succeed within the factory
What encouraged you to pursue a career in the industry?
Resistant Materials was always one of my favourite subjects at school, but I hadn’t even considered it as a career path until my teacher, Mr Baxter, handed me a poster for Flakt Woods who were recruiting for Apprentices. He suggested looking into it and attend their taster/open evening…which I did. From there I applied, got invited to attend an interview, and then got offered the job… on our Prom night in 2015!
I can’t say I wasn’t apprehensive about joining an all-male factory, and I was warned that I would have to get used to their ‘banter’ and take nothing to heart. After a few months I was settled and had become ‘one of the lads’ and in some ways an ‘agony aunt’ for a lot of the men working there.
I am very keen to promote females in Engineering, it is important to prove that we can do it just as well as the men!
How did you get into an apprenticeship?
At school I chose 4 creative subjects at GCSE level; Art, Drama, Media and Resistant Materials (my favourite being Resistant Materials). I thoroughly enjoyed ‘project managing’ my GCSE final piece (a Harry Potter Broomstick) unknowing at the time how much it would help me in my career. A huge part of the BTEC Course is down to a 13000+ word project that has to be fully planned and potentially implemented within the company. This was probably the toughest part of the course, but it was made easier knowing the basics of creating a portfolio.
I spent the first two years of my apprenticeship studying for a BTEC Level 3 Diploma in Engineering, achieving an overall grade of Distinction*Distinction, as well as a Level 3 NVQ Extended Diploma in Engineering Technical Support which I have managed to complete a year early after a lot of hard work.
In June 2018 I was awarded Engineering Outstanding Apprentice of the Year for the Apprenticeship and further Education Awards 2018. The award was highly unexpected but something I couldn’t be more proud of achieving.
I have been at Flakt Woods now for 3.5 years. During this time I have been given so many opportunities in terms of qualifications and experience. I have been lucky enough to have travelled to Italy once and Germany twice with my team, to visit suppliers for new machinery that will improve the productivity, safety and efficiency of the company.
What advice would you give to someone who would like to enter the industry?
Stick it out! The first few months of working in such an alien environment, straight after leaving school was hard and it is likely you will doubt your decision, like I did. The hours are longer, the work is harder both mentally and physically, but if you stick it out, it becomes second nature and you become one of the team. I am so glad I overcame the initial worry and stress of being the only female in a male dominated factory, because it sets a new president that we can do the job just as well!
Thanks to Erin and Flakt Wood for contributing to this article