National Apprenticeship Week: There’s no better way to work than earning while you are learning

Paul Morgan
paul morgan 300x225 National Apprenticeship Week: Theres no better way to work than earning while you are learning

Engineering apprentice Paul Morgan

I believe that apprenticeships are vitally important for two reasons, firstly they give young people the opportunity to gain the practical skills they need, and secondly to ensure that the country as a whole can support and grow its manufacturing industry.

When I finished school at 16, I completed a four-year apprenticeship in electrical installation. Unfortunately, I was made redundant at the end of the apprenticeship due to a lack of work created by the recent economic downturn. While considering what to do next, I took on a three month temporary operator role with Cadbury in Bournville, which is where I heard about my current engineering apprenticeship.

After finishing one apprenticeship and not getting a job in that sector, I was sceptical about applying for an apprenticeship again, but when I was temping at Bournville I saw the engineers at work and I thought it looked like an excellent job with good prospects. Also, I have always been a hands-on person and I wanted to learn the practical skills required to work on a vast array of machinery, so this was the best route for me.

I’ve always been interested in the food manufacturing industry because these companies make the products we see in shops every day. I wanted to see the process of how Cadbury make their products from start to finish, and a job working on some of my favourite treats was a prospect I couldn’t turn down. Recently I’ve been working on Heroes and Creme Egg, which has been really interesting.

When I joined Cadbury, I was attracted by the heritage and family-like feel of the business. I’m actually lucky enough to live in a Bournville trust house, one of the houses built by the trust to provide decent quality homes for Cadbury’s workers. Given that Cadbury is part of Mondelēz International I think it’s an even better opportunity, as I am now part of one of the biggest confectionery companies in the world, where the possibilities are endless. For example, I could apply to work in another country or on another product within the Mondelēz portfolio like coffee or biscuits.

paul morgan 2 300x225 National Apprenticeship Week: Theres no better way to work than earning while you are learningMy apprenticeship in engineering lasts four years and within each stage of the process you are given more responsibility and the chance to work on bigger projects. The first year is based entirely at college, where you complete a PEO in engineering and a level 2 Btec in electrical and control engineering. The second year you spend four days shadowing the engineers and learning the basics of what it takes to be a maintenance engineer, whilst attending college once a week to complete the Btec level 3 in electrical and control engineering. During your third year you start to work more on your own, fixing smaller breakdowns, completing preventative maintenance and undertaking medium-sized projects to make the machinery more efficient and to eradicate breakdowns where possible. Also, throughout the second and third years, you will complete an NVQ level 3.

In the fourth year you start to take charge of solving larger breakdowns by yourself using the skills and initiative you have learnt throughout the apprenticeship. You will also take on larger projects focused on increasing efficiency and saving energy across the factory. Additionally, one of the best things about this apprenticeship is that Mondelēz has allowed me to study for my foundation degree in electrical and control engineering at the same time as working, so soon I will have both an apprenticeship and degree under my belt, making my future prospects really bright.

As a fourth year apprentice my typical day starts at 7am. I’ve got to make sure that if there is a breakdown at any time during the day, I am working to fix it as soon as possible so we can keep the plant running. If there is no breakdown, I will be either working on longer-term projects to increase Bournville efficiency or completing preventative maintenance which will increase the life span of our equipment. Sometimes I have meetings to attend where I discuss plant operation, upcoming projects or my progression through my apprenticeship, I will then finish work at 4pm. I find trying to pack all our activities into a five-day week hard because there is so much to learn and do every single day.

The best things about my job are learning new skills and gaining experience of the chocolate-making process and how the different machinery works. I also really like the great team feeling we have within the engineering team, as it makes the Bournville factory that much better to work in.

At the moment I’m involved in the Brathay Apprentice Challenge. We are working as a team of apprentices to raise the profile of apprenticeships, so more people can get this great opportunity, and also setting up events to raise money for local and national charities, which is really fun and rewarding.

Ultimately, I would love to be the head of engineering for an important manufacturing company like Mondelēz and this apprenticeship is giving me the skills I need to get started on that career ladder. Apprenticeships are a great way to start working in a company and to learn the skills you need for your chosen career.

Also, there is no better way to work than ‘earning, while you are learning’. I would definitely encourage others to consider doing an apprenticeship. As it is National Apprenticeship Week, now is a great time to check out the opportunities available. #]

If you are interested in following my path, you can find details on Mondelēz International by visiting our website or on The National Apprenticeship Service website

The sixth annual National Apprenticeship Week will take place from Monday 11th to Friday 15th March. The week is designed to celebrate Apprenticeships and the positive impact they have on individuals, businesses and the economy.

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  • Newsbot9

    Shame than many apprenticeships are a way to avoid minimum wage laws. There’s not a strong enough standard…

  • WhistlingNeil

    People moaning about not enough apprenticeships and this guys had two! We have serial students perhaps serial apprentices comes next.

  • Tom Porter

    Old Labour had a national education/apprenticeship scheme. The Scroogist employers said it was too expensive, & the subsequent anarcho-capitalist govs hated it on ideological grounds, so they scrapped it. The old industries were wiped out also. The new industries are far more specialized & hi-tech. They demand a wide range of highly trained staff, not just manual skills. So the word ‘engineer’ is vague to meaningless. It covers dozens of cats & sub-varieties, from the hands-on fitter, up to those applying higher-level, theoretical physics. The latter end only gets its hands oily if human resouces are being grossly wasted.

    The old category of manual ‘fitter’ today is a growing anachronism. Those in charge of complex machinery costing hundreds of thousands need higher education – which our present anarchs of gov have pushed out of their reach by privatizing it. Gov ministers are largely products of ‘liberal’ education, which means they have not the slightest knowledge of manufacture, nor its vital economic role. To them, the ‘engineer’ & technician are indeed butts of jukes, oily ‘mechanicals’ in baggy overalls. Top pols know how to make cracks in Latin, & to respond to the demands of crooked bankers. Granted, that pays far, far better than engineering.

  • shylockcameron

    This is particularly galling crap from Cameron! I served a four and a half year apprenticeship in the ‘Print’ back in the 70’s and well over half my classmates at school were apprenticed in one trade or another. Thatcher and her Free-Market Tories hated anything to do with industry and set about set about killing it off with the same vigour they’re now showing for killing the NHS! By the late 80’s the new generation of yuppy teens were openly laughing at the though of being an “apprentice” – they wanted loadsa money – and quick! If anyone did want to learn a trade they had the ever increasing problem of finding somewhere to do it.

    After all these years, in a predominantly low pay/low skill economy dominated by the interests of financiers who only want quick returns, not long term investment, Cameron’s urging people to do apprenticeships! It just beggars belief! It’s like shooting someone and then then turning to them for help. The country needs to borrow to help set up training and investment in industry. The money earned n new workers paying taxes and having disposable income will more than repay the cost of borrowing at the present time with low interests. Plus it will allow people move into stable work and not live on Social Security. For once I agree with Cameron’s message, but will he back it up with help rather than the usual Bullsh*t and Bluster?

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