Second year engineering apprentice - General Mills

"An apprenticeship gives you a career for the rest of your life rather than just being a job. It gives you a trade which you can never lose and sets you up to find a job wherever you want to go within the industry."

John Marshall, 19, Second year engineering apprentice - General Mills

Tell us about yourself, what do you do?

John MarshallI spent my first year in the machine shop learning how machinery goes from concept to design, design to manufacture and manufacture to trial. I learnt how to operate lathes, the milling machine and how to weld stainless steel and aluminium. I have since transferred to electrical, and am learning about programming PLC's and wiring drawings. Away from work I enjoy being outside and walking with the dog.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

I enjoy learning things by doing practical work and seeing how the things I learn are applied to the real world. I also enjoy seeing the things I have made go from concept to working on the line and knowing that I have been a part of making that happen.

When did you start working for your company?

I started working for the company on the 9th August 2010.

What are the qualifications needed for this field?

Subsidiary diploma in engineering, level 2 NVQ in electrical and mechanical disciplines and level 3 NVQ in electrical and mechanical disciplines.

What was your route into the sector?

My route into the sector was through doing my GCSE's, AS levels and A levels, I then applied for the job through the internet site www.apprenticeships.org the job opportunity was found for me via connections at school.

What attracted you to joining the industry?

From the end of GCSE I wanted to be in a trade as I have always enjoyed the practical side of learning more than the theoretical side. However, due to the economy it was not possible to find an apprenticeship at the time. After I finished my A levels I knew that all I wanted was a job, preferably an apprenticeship or one that would lead me to getting one. I wanted an apprenticeship because I liked the idea of being paid for training that would get me a trade which would be a career rather than just a job.

What are your/your businesses key achievements to date?

My key achievements to date are successfully completing my NVQ level 2 in domestic installation; I also completed my first year of my subsidiary diploma with the grade distinction. This has lead me to start a HNC qualification a year early which is above the qualification I need for my apprenticeship.

I have also achieved manufacturing products that are now working on the lines at work. These include, air controlled arms to direct sausage rolls off the out feed conveyor into the elevator conveyors. I have also helped to make a 90 degree poly cord conveyor to remove the problems we had with the old system which has been very successful.

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 benefitted from doing an apprenticeship because it gives you experience of the job while still getting a theoretical knowledge of what you are doing. I think that it is easier to learn the theory of engineering when you are doing a job that you can apply it to.

An apprenticeship benefits you because you are paid for learning rather than finishing your training with very little practical experience and a debt to pay off when you start your job. I have also become much more confident in myself since starting an apprenticeship.

How do your employers support you in your apprentice?

My employers support me by doing what they can to put me into jobs that compliment what I am learning at college. They are always ready to help if I am struggling on any aspect of theory work and give me information on how our site operates to use in my assignments as real world examples.

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

An apprenticeship gives you a career for the rest of your life rather than just being a job. It gives you a trade which you can never lose and sets you up to find a job wherever you want to go within the industry.

What advice would you give to other people looking to pursue a career in this sector?

Don't view it as the easier option compared to university. It is hard work both in college and at work but it is very rewarding.

Where do you see your career going in the future?

At the moment due to my apprenticeship being general I am learning about both mechanical and electrical aspects of engineering. I think that I would enjoy the programming side of electrical but I enjoy mechanical work in the machine shop very much.

More Information

More about the FDF careers campaign