Apprentice trained Winder

Why choose an Apprenticeship in Engineering? ATB Morley’s Paul Emmott explains

Wednesday Apr 23rd - 08:30

Apprenticeship schemes offer on-the-job practical learning for those who may not possess the required academic background for a role, but have the desire and ability to be successful at the job. These programmes can be effective in teaching students industry-specific skills and can serve as a platform for entry to industries such as engineering.

Apprenticeship schemes are accessible to people aged 16 and above, normally lasting for between one and four years and are available at intermediate, advanced and higher levels.

Whilst these programmes were once considered inferior to degrees, realistically, they now offer similar career prospects without the debts associated with a university education.

Yet the demand for apprenticeship schemes massively outstrips the actual vacancies, with on average 12 people applying for every position. The Government are now looking to widen the availability of apprenticeships in a bid to tackle youth unemployment, which currently runs at 18% among 18-24 year olds. 

Despite high levels of youth unemployment, the National Office of Statistics has revealed that the national unemployment rate has fallen to 6.9% which should have a positive influence on the recovering economy. Nonetheless, news of skills shortages – particularly in the engineering sector – continues to sweep the nation.

Speaking at a debate on skills at the British Chambers of Commerce’s annual conference, former Labour education minister Lord Adonis called for an “apprenticeship revolution” and has urged schools to advocate vocational awareness.

This motion is supported by a recent CBI report titled “Engineering our Future”, which highlights the ‘skills crunch’ companies across the science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) sectors are encountering in the UK.  

The report suggests that by increasing engagement in STEM subjects at school – particularly amongst female pupils – and introducing new collaborative training solutions to progress apprenticeships,  the UK will be able to resolve the current skills vacuum through engineering a more diverse and skilled future workforce.

“Highly-skilled workers are essential for our growth sectors and it will be those young people with science and maths who will go on to become the engineers and new tech entrepreneurs of tomorrow.” – Katja Hall, CBI Chief Policy Director

To get an insight into the careers available to apprentices, we interviewed ATB Morley’s Project Engineer Paul Emmott.

Q1) Why did you choose to do an apprenticeship? Why engineering?

I’ve always had an interest in electronics and particularly enjoyed the more practical, hands on subjects at school. I wanted to learn new skills whilst earning a salary so thought an apprenticeship would be the most suitable option for me.

I attended a school careers evening where I spoke to a company named BTAL (now Appris) who suggested a career in engineering. They told me that two local companies were offering apprenticeships (ATB Morley being one of them) and I applied for these immediately. I was invited to attend an interview at both companies and fortunately was successful in both.

I chose to accept the offer from ATB Morley because I warmed to the people I met there and I was also impressed by the motors I saw being manufactured whilst on a tour of the factory.

Q2) What was your first role for ATB Morley and what is your role now?

I started as an apprentice winder which essentially involves forming the coils that generate the magnetic field in an electro-magnetic machine such as a motor. After this I became a full time winder, where I had a more varied role in terms of making the motors. 

My final role in the factory was as a shop floor charge hand in the winding shop. This role required me to work hand in hand with the foreman, and I was responsible for organising and communicating effectively with staff on the shop floor, ensuring the motors were fit for purpose and had passed our quality control procedures before being despatched.

In 2010 I moved into the commercial department of ATB Morley, assuming the position of Project Engineer which is the role I hold today. As a Project Engineer I work alongside our Australian representatives to assist in the sales of our motors in Australia. I manage each project from start to finish, ensuring the motors are designed to match each client’s exact specifications and are then shipped according to schedule. If our clients have any issues during the process, I make sure that these are quickly resolved.

Q3) Why do you think it is important for modern organisations to offer apprenticeship schemes?

It gives them the opportunity to handpick the most competent young individuals and mould them into highly skilled employees. A university education is not suitable or accessible to all, so it’s important that companies offer an alternative form of learning that allows young people to demonstrate their full potential.  

Q4) What has been the most rewarding aspect of working in the engineering industry?

I think the most rewarding aspect for me has been learning new skills, improving them through practice and then teaching them to others. It’s always rewarding to know that you’re not only bettering yourself but others too.

I’ve also enjoyed the social part of the job; engineering requires you to work in a tight-knit team whilst liaising with   different departments, clients and partner companies. I’m lucky now in that my job requires me to travel and I have visited many different parts of the world representing ATB Morley.

I think I should also mention how rewarding it was actually manufacturing the motors. Some took months until completion – but when they were finished I would stand back in awe of what we had accomplished. I think that engineering offers you a sense of achievement that would be hard to find in other forms of employment.

Q5) What has been the most demanding?

There’s a lot to learn and you will often be thrown in at the deep end. I often need to take work home with me and its hard balancing that with trying to spend time with my family.

Q6) What qualities are needed to become a successful engineer?

I think first and foremost common sense and the ability to listen and absorb information.

In the workplace you’re always going to make some mistakes but it’s important to be resilient and learn from these. In my experience that’s the best way to mature as a person and an employee.

Q7) What advice would you give to young people who are unsure of what route to choose after school?  

Discover what you’re good at and enjoy doing, make an active effort to research related jobs and speak to the people around you, teachers, family etc…If you persevere you will eventually find something that is right for you.

ATB Morley currently employs 7 Apprentices that work within the winding, fitting, fabrication and machine shop departments of the factory. Several members of our senior management, including our Managing Director Steve Kolowiecki, Operations Director Ian Peacock and our Manufacturing Manager Mick Crossley are all apprentice trained. This shows the degree of opportunities that become accessible through undertaking apprenticeship schemes.

At present, Morley are not taking on any more apprentices, but plan to do so later on this year. In the meantime, be sure to follow us on Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter, where we post a wide variety of content, including our latest opportunities.

For further information about apprenticeships and other employment opportunities, visit the National Careers Service website.

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