Often bombarded with bleak statistics about the UK jobs market, young people can still bag jobs that they love, and securing an apprenticeship is a great route to doing so.
To learn more about the benefits of joining an apprenticeship scheme, we spoke to Paula Tinkler, Commercial Director at contract manufacturer Chemoxy, along with one of the company’s apprentices, Jack Grieves. Recently, they swapped jobs for a day to see what they could learn about each other’s roles. Here, they discuss why more people should consider apprenticeships, and what it was like to spend the day in each other’s work boots.
Q: Do you think more school-leavers should consider joining apprenticeship schemes as a route into employment?
Jack: Yes. Throughout my apprenticeship, I’ve been able to develop my skills and become a competent mechanical fitter. Over the four years I’ve spent as a Chemoxy apprentice I’ve been given a lot of responsibility, and this has prepared me for eventually undertaking a fulltime position.
Paula: Definitely. Twenty-five of our staff members are current or former Chemoxy-sponsored apprentices — that’s 20% of our workforce. Apprenticeships offer a vital route for people who are interested in working for our company.
We’ve had some fantastic success stories, too. Daniel Arkle joined us as a Tees Valley production technician apprentice in 2006. He received apprentice of the year awards in his second and fourth years, and obtained an HNC in chemical engineering. After completing a five-month graduate development programme to see how he would fit best into our company’s structure, he is now the plant manager of one of our Middlesbrough operations units.
What do apprenticeships offer that other career paths don’t?
Jack: My apprenticeship has provided me with practical and theoretical skills that I can use in everyday situations. Having an apprenticeship also enables me to earn a wage while I’m training. If I had chosen to go to university instead, this wouldn’t have been the case.
Paula: A classroom education doesn’t allow young engineers to experience a real production environment. Learning in a classroom is entirely different to working in the freezing cold while heavy equipment is vibrating nearby. When it comes to working as an engineer, you need to be prepared for the reality of the job.
How did you find the job swap, and did it teach you anything?
Jack: I found it very interesting and learned how important Paula’s role is to the company. I also got to attend a planning meeting, which showed me how much work is required to keep a successful chemical company running. This made me want to focus even harder on being the best maintenance technician possible.
Paula: I loved it. I joined Chemoxy quite recently in 2015, and the job swap gave me a chance to get to know the Billingham team better. A key takeaway for me was how professional the team was and how well they worked together. They were always focusing on the safety of everyone, and they concentrated on helping me to understand the risks of working onsite.