National Apprenticeship Week 2019: Andrew Aiken08 March 2019

National Apprenticeship Week, 4-8 March, shines a light on future technicians and engineers, and the courses, teachers and employers that prepare them for success. Andrew Aiken is a Technician Apprentice at Spirax Sarco.

In September 2015, I began my apprenticeship with Spirax Sarco. I am currently a Technician Apprentice. My first year was spent completing a training course at Gloucestershire Engineering Training, this helped me to build strong relationships and friendships with many like-minded people. In August 2016 I began rotating around the business, this has allowed me to be involved in parts of the business such as inspection/calibration and in the testing facilities. This range of experiences has given me the opportunity to find and explore new roles that I otherwise may not have considered.

Before coming to Spirax Sarco, I wasn’t made aware of opportunities like these. I chose this route after not doing as well as I had hoped in my A-levels and deciding that I didn’t want to go straight to university. The fact that the apprenticeship allowed me to explore roles in the business before making a decision over my future direction also really suited me.

The apprenticeship route has developed me in many ways. I’ve not only been able to experience life in different departments, but I’ve also gained a series of ‘hard’ skills such as using metrology equipment, reading engineering drawings and interpreting standards. While I have also expanded my arsenal of soft skills, for example paying attention to finer details, keeping a positive mind-set and working in high-pressure environments.

As well as gaining hands-on experience, I have been able to further my theoretical studies. I did this by going on to fast track a HNC followed by a HND, this additional learning opportunity ran alongside my apprenticeship studies, complimenting the work I have been doing on the apprenticeship.

I would definitely encourage those not planning on going into a restricted practise to consider taking up an apprenticeship. It’s possible to reach a university-level education whilst also profiling yourself in the business and networking with specialists in the industry. One of the major advantages is being able to work directly with experts with a broad range of experiences. This has allowed me to find mentors and have conversations about their experiences and the routes they themselves took, providing me with the insight to understand better the direction that I want to head in.

I still have a few placements to experience, which is a relief as I will be interviewing for my final job role in the coming months, so I still have time to decide which route to take. One thing is for sure, I will never stop trying to continually develop. I will most certainly keep in touch with many of the people I have met along the way.

Andrew Aiken

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