National Apprenticeship Week: There’s no better way to work than earning while you are learning
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.
My 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. #]
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.
Tagged in: apprenticeships, Bournville, Cadbury, graduate unemployment, National Apprenticeship Service, National Apprenticeship Week, unemployment, youth employment
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