Hear from the Apprentices
Manufacturing Engineering Apprentice
I was successful in securing a craft apprenticeship at GKN after completing a two-year HND course in mechanical and manufacturing principles at the University of South Wales, Newport. I had the opportunity of carrying on to a final year at Newport to complete my full degree in engineering, however I decided to go down the apprenticeship route because I wanted a better balance between practical and theoretical work.
With the apprenticeship I have been provided with the chance to gain invaluable practical skills and work experience, as well as work with some of the most advanced manufacturing technology about today.
After completing my first year of the apprenticeship I was invited to join the manufacturing engineering pathway, which means I will be completing an FdSc in aero-engineering. This shows GKN’s active approach to find the best learning pathways for their apprentices and is testament to their continuous improvement attitude towards the apprenticeship scheme.
Some of the experiences I have gained whilst employed by GKN I would not have had if I had chosen to carry on with the pure academic route. I have met deputy prime ministers and members of parliament and have worked with breakthrough technology. I am currently completing a placement in additive manufacturing - building 3D components from computer aided designs. The process is carried out by successively adding cross sectional layers of CAD parts on top of one another until a ‘near net shape’ product has been built. This technology is moving away from subtractive means of manufacturing and will change the way we manufacture components.
I would recommend this apprenticeship to anyone looking to develop themselves as a recognised highly skilled engineer, working for a word leading manufacturing company. Since joining GKN I haven’t looked back.
After completing my A-levels at sixth form, GKN’s higher apprenticeship scheme sounded like a great opportunity to gain some hands-on experience with one of the largest global engineering businesses, whilst also gaining valuable qualifications at college. With on-site training being included in the second year as well as continuing work in the classroom it is an excellent alternative to university.
I have completed placements in change management, automation, shop floor support and placements in the production area of our assembly division. The placements in the production area have proved very useful alongside the office based placements, as they provide an in-depth understanding of how things work on site.
The work given in placements is real work that will be included in the working system of the company, so whilst there may feel like a lot of pressure, everyone is very approachable and helpful when it comes to difficult tasks.
We are currently spending one full day at college a week, where we are continuing with our foundation degree in engineering. The subjects this year are based more around the design aspect of engineering, subjects such as advanced CAD, engineering design, and mechanical properties. We are also carrying out an industrial project, which is part of our foundation degree, this involves us keeping a journal about a piece of work that we do and once the work is complete we analyse and evaluate our methods and comment on how the work could be improved.
Since starting work on site, I have found it very educational and rewarding in being an employee who’s work is seen as a contribution to the company. I would still definitely recommend the higher apprenticeship scheme to anyone interested in a career in engineering.
Having completed my A-levels at school, I decided I wanted a career in engineering and also the ability to gain hands on practical experience whilst increasing my academic qualifications. The aerospace industry has always interested me and after researching GKN Aerospace and the opportunities that one of the world’s leading manufacturers of aircraft components had to offer, I applied and was successful in gaining an advanced apprenticeship. This would allow me to use my hands on skills but to also gain a qualification at the end of the three year apprenticeship from studying at college.
The first seven months were spent at South Bristol Skills Academy. Here we learnt how to read engineering drawings and we were tested with our hand skills. We were also taught about the safe systems of work and working to engineering tolerances. This then prepared us for the final assessment which involved making a small scale wing section gaining a VRQ and an NVQ Level 2 in performing engineering operations.
The remainder of the first year was spent on site moving around different departments gaining hands on experience. This I found extremely interesting as you are constantly working on different parts of an aircraft and you are always learning about correct techniques, tooling and the aircraft itself. The second year involves one day a week at college and the remainder on site, split into seven week placements in different departments.
This apprenticeship has given me exactly what I wanted, hands on experience and involvement in a real engineering environment, as well as the opportunity to increase my academic achievement. On completion of my apprenticeship I would like to continue working for GKN, putting into practice the skills that I have learned during the apprenticeship and extending my academic achievement.