After starting A-levels, Liam began to feel this wasn't the right route for him to take. Leaving sixth form after the first year, he decided to take a more practical pathway and applied for an engineering apprenticeship.
What’s your name?
18 years old.
What's your job title?
Apprentice design engineer.
How long have you been doing that?
I have been employed since September 2014; however I was at college full-time until January. Then I started working four days a week with a day release at college.
How did you get there?
I began my higher education studying art, maths and physics at A level. After half a year I felt it wasn’t the right route for me take. I felt like I had no sense of direction and the lack of practical work made it uninteresting for me. I decided to leave sixth form after my first year and began looking for an apprenticeship in engineering. I came across Tyne North Training at a careers fair. They held an open day so I went along.
After a few tests and interviews I was accepted into Tyne North Training and they helped me get an interview with potential employers. Rubb Buildings Ltd responded and offered me an interview. Shortly after that I was employed as an apprentice design engineer.
What's the day-to-day experience like?
Rubb Buildings Ltd manufactures engineered fabric buildings: portable structures, relocatable buildings, shelters, hangars and custom facilities.
I’m tasked to do different things every day, so no two days are the same. At work, I could be producing a plans and elevations drawing using AutoCAD and Google SketchUp, or producing steelwork, foundation and PVC production drawings for a building we’ve been tasked to design.
What's the best thing about the job?
I think being surrounded by nice people who help me and I can be open around is a huge benefit, especially as an apprentice. I can have a laugh with my colleagues and I don’t feel uncomfortable when asking questions, and this really helps with my learning. I’m learning something new every day and I don’t think it is boring or mundane like some courses can be. It is enjoyable and I’m getting paid to do something I’m interested in, which is even better.
And the worst?
I suppose the worst thing is the frustration of not being as good as the other draughtsmen. They’ve obviously been at Rubb longer than I have and they know everything about the work they’re involved in. However, this inspires me to improve my skill set and gain more experience. I know this won’t be a problem if I work hard enough.
What stand-out things have you got involved in so far?
We recently made an indoor trampoline park for a client. It was huge and I was involved from the start. I got to make the conceptual 3D models for it and later on helped with a lot of the design work. What really struck me was going on site visits and seeing the park coming together. Seeing a job through the computer screen is one thing, but seeing it when it was being built was a great experience. When it was completed it was amazing to see something which people were enjoying and knowing I had helped design it.
How would you describe life as an engineering apprentice?
I’ve enjoyed my first year as an apprentice engineer. It has been challenging at times but rewarding nonetheless. When you’re working you forget how much you are learning, and looking back over the last year I can say I’ve gained so much experience.
What did you expect when you started work?
I wasn’t exposed to engineering until getting my apprenticeship so I honestly didn’t know what to expect. However, I did think due to past employment that I would be doing all sorts of boring work before being trusted to work on more interesting projects.
As soon as I started I was working on interesting, thought-provoking projects. I started getting to know the basics of the drawing software we use and then I was on my way to doing sales drawings. This surprised me and I was impressed at the amount of trust put in me from the very start. I was treated like an adult from day one, and this was a big change in comparison with sixth form, where I felt you were still treated like a child.
Is there any advice you’d like to pass on to those about to enter an engineering workplace?
I would advise anyone wanting to start a career in engineering to go down the apprenticeship route. There’s nothing better than getting paid to learn, especially when the workplace is interesting, challenging and the people in it are friendly and helpful. Just make sure you enjoy yourself and try to take in as much useful information and experience as possible.
It is important to know what you’re getting yourself into. Lots of young apprentices drop out before their first year, wasting their time and effort for nothing. You should do your research before applying for a job and the same applies to an apprenticeship.
What do you think you'll do next?
After gaining my BTEC level 3 in mechanical engineering and finishing my NVQ, I hope to move on to my HNC. Gaining more experience at work is also another thing I’m striving for. Hopefully, I’ll move up the workforce and achieve great things for my company.