Serving an apprenticeship is a great way to ’earn as you learn’ and, with the recent signing of four new electrical apprentices at TCE, we thought it would be interesting to hear from staff who have already completed their apprenticeship journey and are now full- time TCE employees.
Jon Smith and Pete Edwards joined TCE in 2012 as apprentices and both are now working at Middlewich as Maintenance Technicians. We caught up with them to get an insight into their apprenticeship experience.
What apprenticeship route did you follow?
Pete: ‘We both came via the Training Tomorrow’s Engineers’ (TTE) scheme, having completed a Level 3 BTEC in Mechanical Maintenance. It was a three and a half year apprenticeship, involving a combination of college and placements on site. Having a mentor (Martin Hiorns) was hugely helpful, particularly around the practical issues of working on a busy and hazardous site in a new environment.’
Why the apprentice programme?
Jon: ‘We wanted to be hands-on. Seeing and doing is the best way of learning for us and the apprenticeship route meant that we could still study whilst also learning in a live environment. Working for TCE is a huge bonus as it’s a well-known local company.’
What qualifications have you completed post-apprenticeship?
Jon: ‘We completed our HNCs in Mechanical Engineering through Coleg Cambria, Wrexham. This was self-funded and then reimbursed through the student loans scheme.’
What has been the biggest challenge of the apprenticeship?
Pete: ‘The practicalities and logistics of being allowed to work in a hazardous environment can pose a problem initially. Health and Safety’s paramount so we totally understood the restrictions.’
Jon: ‘It was a bit daunting wondering how I’d fit into the team, as many people have been here a long time. However, we quickly felt comfortable as everyone was very welcoming, so this made it easier’.
What advice would you give to new apprentices?
Jon: ‘Give it time. Don’t get frustrated if, for Health and Safety reasons, you can’t get stuck in on everything straightaway.’
Pete: ‘I’d add that you should also expect to be tired at first. It can seem like a shock to the system combining placement work with college work so go easy on yourself.’
What do you see as the next step on the career ladder?
Pete: ‘I’d like to experience project work and eventually like to move into more of a managerial role. I’m interested in participating in a future Aspiring Leaders programme.’
Jon: ‘We act as ‘Relief Team Leaders’ for our Line Manager, so we’re developing some people management skills, which are always handy! ‘
What notable projects have you been involved in so far?
Jon: ‘We’ve been involved product testing in the Pack Line 2 Project. I recently went over to the supplier’s factory in Italy for four days to do some testing and complete the factory acceptance test. It was a great experience.’
Pete: ‘For 2019, we’re looking ahead to Pack Line 3 so there should be lots more exciting opportunities to come’
Pete: ‘It’s a well-regarded company and a big part of the local community. We’re actually cousins too, so it’s nice to be able to work locally and keep it in the family!’
Why would you recommend someone to take up an apprenticeship at TCE?
Jon: ‘You’d earn money, so you don’t take on the student debt. TCE’s an excellent company with a great reputation and opportunities’.
Pete: ‘Training in a professional environment doing something we love is just perfect.’