Multi-skilled third year apprentice - Kraft Foods

"I feel that doing an apprenticeship has given me a vast array of skills, which I probably would not have gained had I followed the normal degree route. "

Sam Robinson, 24, Multi-skilled third year apprentice - Kraft Foods

Tell us about yourself, what do you do?

Sam RobinsonI am currently working in the third year of a four year apprenticeship scheme at the Kraft Foods site in Banbury. I have recently completed my Mechanical NVQ Level 3 and my ONC certificate at Midland Group Training Services, Coventry and am now working towards completing my HNC at the Trident Centre in Leamington.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

I most enjoy the general challenges of the workplace, being presented with a problem and using my newly developed skills to find ways of overcoming and eliminating this problem. Kraft Foods is a very diverse company which gives me the chance to work in many different areas. It is great to experience the challenges and learn new skills in each area. Some of these areas include:

  • The Packing departments, where the machinery is quite small and requires a high level of knowledge and delicacy when resolving problems.
  • The Process departments, where the machinery is a lot larger in size, more dangerous to work with and is set within a much larger area.
  • The Freeze dried department, where working conditions are very difficult and new challenges are presented, such as dealing with ammonia and working in temperatures as low as -55oC.

I also enjoy working alongside the many different technicians around the site and absorbing all of the knowledge that they pass onto me.

When did you start working for your company?

August 2009

What are the qualifications needed for this field?

Once I finish my apprenticeship I am expected to have achieved an NVQ level three and a HNC. Prior to starting work in the workplace as a fully qualified technician I am also expected to pass a Trade Test where my skills will be fully tested.

What was your route into the sector?

I left school in 2007 having achieved 11 GCSE's of A* to C, one of these subjects being Engineering, this is where I believe my passion for engineering first came to life. Whilst completing my GCSE's I also purchased a classic mini which became a bit of a project for me, fixing it up ready for when I passed my test.

Before I was employed by Kraft foods I was employed as an apprentice mechanic by a motorsport company where I completed a two year apprenticeship in the Rally Department of the team. Unfortunately whilst working for this small company I got treated very badly and didn't feel that I was achieving the skills and qualifications I wanted to gain and was not given the opportunity to reach the goals I had wanted to achieve in the workplace.

I still relished the idea working as an apprentice within the engineering sector but no longer in the field of motorsport. So, in September 2009 I applied to join the Kraft Foods Organisation, as a multi skilled apprentice. I was accepted and here the company had no problems with helping me achieve my goals and providing me with all the training I needed.

What attracted you to joining the industry?

After leaving the Army and having a retail management background I was looking for a new challenge I wanted to work in a complete new environment, I saw manufacturing was the way to go.

What are your/your businesses key achievements to date?

I originally heard about the Kraft Foods apprenticeship through a member of my family who was already employed within the company. The apprenticeship was already recognised as one of the best apprenticeship schemes in the local area, but I was unsure what the workplace would be like to work in. I attended an open evening and after seeing all the different levels of machinery and challenges I could face if I worked in this sector I applied for the apprenticeship the same day.

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?

  • MGTS, Apprentice of the year 2011
  • Kraft Foods UK Outstanding Apprentice Award
  • Completion of mechanical NVQ level 3.
  • Completion of ONC Certificate.
  • Completion of BTEC National Award.

How do your employers support you in your apprentice?

I feel that doing an apprenticeship has given me a vast array of skills, such as real life fault finding and dealing with extremely dangerous equipment, which I probably would not have gained had I followed the normal degree route. Plus, with an apprenticeship you are learning to work alongside other technicians as a team and experience real working life before you move on as a fully fledged technician.

An apprenticeship allows you to earn a wage at the same time as gaining many qualifications, had I chosen to just get a job without any formal training I would probably have struggled to further my career without the necessary qualifications to back my experience.

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

My employers have been extremely supportive during my apprenticeship, they regularly organise training courses and events days that they think would be of use to me and my training. Also, if I find a course that I think would be of benefit to me I am able to sit down with my apprentice trainers and they will help me organise attending these courses.

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

If you enjoy getting your hands dirty, getting stuck in with a variety of different jobs, working alongside highly skilled technicians, gaining all of the relative qualifications/ skills needed for the workplace and getting paid at the same time. Then this is definitely the perfect career path for you.

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

Go for it, attend any open days you can at the companies you are interested in so that you can get a feel for the workplace and see what kind of machinery you could be working with and what kind of people you could be working alongside.

Having an interest in engineering outside of work, such as working on your own or friend's vehicles or having completed work experience at an engineering firm will also really help you to sell yourself when applying for apprenticeships.

Where do you see your career going in the future?

I would like to remain working within the Kraft foods organisation but I would also like to further my career within the organisation. There are many members of staff who have completed their apprenticeship at Kraft who have gone on to be shift technicians, team leaders, managers or even studied higher qualifications at university. Kraft Foods is a great organisation to work for and I am positive that they will help me pursue my chosen career path within their company.

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