Looking for the best route to careers in design, manufacturing and construction? Apprenticeships could hold the key. Our apprentice Liam Whyatt, aged 19, talks about his journey and experiences…
What is your job title?
Apprentice Design Engineer
How long have you been working in this role?
I have been employed since September 2014, however I was at college full time until January 2015. Then I started working four days a week with a day release at college.
Describe the journey that led to your apprenticeship
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 disinterested 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. 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.
Can you describe your working day?
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. It is enjoyable and I’m getting payed to do something I’m interested in, which is even better.
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 me and they know everything about the work they’re involved in. However, this inspires me to improve my skill set and gain more experience.
What stand-out projects 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.
What has been your career highlight to date?
Again, getting to see the finished trampoline park for myself was a treat. We all went down before it opened to test it out. This was great fun, and ended a challenging project on a positive note.
How would you describe life as a working engineer?
I’ve enjoyed my first year as an apprentice engineer. It has been challenging at times but rewarding. 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. Initially I thought I would be doing all sorts of boring work before being trusted to work on more interesting projects.
Was it what you expected or did anything surprise you?
As soon as I started I was working on interesting, thought provoking projects. I started on 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 which was put in me from the very start. I was treated like an adult from day one.
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.
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.