Multi-skilled Engineer - British Sugar

"I have been able to earn while I learn and still have the opportunity to gain a degree through further education if I want to."

Edward Haylock, 24, Multi-skilled Engineer - British Sugar

Tell us about yourself, what do you do?

I am part of the maintenance team at the Wissington factory and am involved in maintaining the plant and keeping it running in breakdown situations. I am mainly based in the electrical engineering department but I am also qualified to do mechanical engineering work as well.

The wide range and size of equipment at our site means that one minute I can be working on a small control/instrumentation device and the next I can be working on high voltage equipment or large motors.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

I enjoy the fact that I never know what job I'm going to be doing that day or what I'm going to be working on because any piece of plant can breakdown at any time and then it is a challenge to get it working again and get the production back underway.

When did you start working for your company?

I started my apprenticeship in September 2007 but have been taken on permanently and I moved onto shift working in September 2011.

What are the qualifications needed for this field?

I had to complete an NVQ 2 and NVQ 3 in engineering as well as a BTEC National Certificate in Engineering and then a further HNC (Higher National Certificate).

What was your route into the sector?

Through my apprenticeship.

What attracted you to joining the industry?

British Sugar is a well known employer in the local area and is not far away from where I live. At the time it was offering an apprenticeship scheme and I decided to go for it. I had previous experience of working with British Sugar through their involvement with my local college.

What are your/your businesses key achievements to date?

My personal achievements to date are being awarded engineering apprentice of the year for my college in the first year of my apprenticeship. Completing my apprenticeship and being offered a permanent position is a key achievement of mine, along with completing my HNC qualification.

How have you benefitted from doing an apprenticeship as opposed to just getting a job without formal training or choosing a more traditional degree route?

I have been able to earn while I learn and still have the opportunity to gain a degree through further education if I want to. I have been offered a job that is well paid for the area and will give me good experience in my trade. I have not got the large sums of debt that I could have if I had done a degree from college.

How do your employers support you in your apprentice?

We were all given a mentor at the start of our apprenticeship to help support us at work and help us with anything we were unsure of. Everyone at British Sugar are more than happy to help you learn and share their experience with you. During my apprenticeship I was able to spend time on my studies at work if necessary.

If you had to give one reason why young people should consider this career path, what would it be?

You learn a skill that will stay with you for life and is transferable to almost any industry because plant will always need maintenance or improvement. There are many opportunities in engineering to work abroad and earn a lot of money. With engineering you never know what challenge is going to be thrown at you next and this makes the job very interesting and very rewarding when you overcome that challenge.

If you had to give one reason why young people should consider this career path, what would it be?

Work hard at school to gain good grades especially in maths. Always ask questions about how things work and why. Stay keen and listen to what others are telling you because they may have experience and knowledge that will help you in the future.

Where do you see your career going in the future?

I would like to move forward in engineering to work on projects and possibly management but to be honest I'm not 100% sure. I know what ever I do, I want to remain in engineering as that is what I am trained for and feel I am best at. I would like to further my education to a degree level if I have the opportunity.

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