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Wednesday, 07 March 2018 00:00

National Apprenticeship Week - Industry Apprentice Council Blog Day 3

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Guest Blog by Helen Brindley, Degree Apprentice, Siemens plc

Helen picI can’t remember a time when I didn’t take things apart to see why they worked as they did. This was then enhanced when I started high school at a (back then) technology school, the facilities were great and the support I received in pursuing this further was outstanding. However, I was lucky in the respect that my school had careers adviser employed full time who was always on hand to offer advice and support.

I was given the opportunity to take part in the Make it Challenge this is an enterprising engineering challenge that a number of schools took part in. My school team of 8 not only won the semi-finals but went on win the finals. I was given the chance to undertake 2 work experiences. The first, a 2 week work experience at a small engineering firm in Cheshire and the second, a week run by Jaguar Land Rover aimed at getting more women into engineering.

After leaving school I went to a very competitive sixth form college and studied A – Levels, in Maths, Physics and Computing, the primary focus was on getting to university with little thought given to other options.

It was my family that encouraged me to apply for an apprenticeship, especially my brother who is older than me. He studied aeronautical engineering at university and once he started work told my parents of the value of apprentices in the company that he worked for. This helped to overcome some misconstrued ideas of apprenticeships as ‘cheap labour’ and instead the value that apprentices hold in the knowledge that they gain from working with the technology every day, and putting the theory into practice.

A benefit I have found since I started work is the diversity in the apprentices taken on by my company, within my cohort of 4 apprentices, there are 2 of us that undertook A-Levels, one that had previously completed a Level 3 BTEC and one that had previously undertaken an apprenticeship and was looking for the next step. This diversity in the group means that we all have different strengths and different experiences. This combined knowledge meant that in our first year we were able to support each other’s learning, achieving distinctions in all units in my first year of HNC.

For anyone wondering what benefits an apprenticeship provides, I would say that undertaking my apprenticeship is the best decision I have ever made. I have been able to earn money whilst receiving the support and qualifications needed for career progression. There are a lot of misconceptions regarding apprenticeships and the value of them in the modern workplace, but the number of my friends that attended university and are now unable to get a job as they have no workplace experience, just a theoretical knowledge. The way that my apprenticeship scheme has been developed allows for a variety of training to be given and with the rotational placements, a sense of ownership is given to the apprentice, with the ability to decide on the career path they wish to join at the end of the scheme.

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