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06 March 2019

This week is National Apprenticeship Week. Devin Consulting is a big supporter of this scheme and is working with Tyne North Training to sponsor 3 design engineering apprentices. There’s no doubt that our apprentices add value to, and are an integral part of our team. Naturally, as a practice, we had some initial reservations; would the training burden be too great? Did we have the resources to devote to coaching and mentoring? Our concerns were unfounded and the scheme is a resounding success for our business. Yes, there is a time commitment on our staff but the benefits far outweigh any initial resourcing issues.

Our first apprentice, Andrew Gibson achieved double distinction star in BTEC Level 3 and is working towards his HNC Level 4. Alex Cockburn is our second apprentice and came to us having achieved Distinction at the end of year 1. He is now on track to complete Level 3 BTEC this summer and will continue in Andrew’s footsteps by pursuing his HNC qualifications. We’re looking forward to welcoming Jake Davey at the end of this academic year when he begins his placement with Devin.

So, from a business perspective, our apprentices are a success story, but how are they finding the scheme? Over to Alex:

Who or what inspired you to become an apprentice?
My brother was my inspiration. He decided not to go to uni but to become an apprentice through Tyne North Training apprenticeship scheme. He did that and got himself a job and I liked the idea of going straight into work rather than spending another 3-4 years studying. Getting an apprenticeship allows you to begin earning a steady income at a younger age getting the basis of your life underway. The only regret I have is not beginning my apprenticeship straight after my GCSEs - I did 2 years of A-levels which I did not need in the end.

What was the biggest factor in making you decide to do an apprenticeship?
It was a financial decision for me. The scheme allows me to start earning a decent income for someone my age straight out of sixth form. If I’d gone to university I’d have for 3-4 years of little or no income and potentially be racking up £30k+ in tuition fees.

Describe a typical day in the office. What do you enjoy most about your role, and why?
Being a design engineer is good in the sense that you can often be left to work freely within the software, coming up with your own ideas and methods (within reason) to ultimately achieve the final product. I like that sense of coming to work and working away on Revit to complete tasks to the best possible standard.

How do you think an apprenticeship has improved or opened up your career options?
The apprenticeship scheme is excellent in the sense that is allows you to gain qualifications that are broad and cover a lot of areas within engineering (not just design). This provides flexibility, for example, if in the future the job market changes or my personal circumstances change, I could decide to go into electrical or maintenance. Skills are very transferable to other types of jobs within the engineering industry.

What advice would you give to other people considering an apprenticeship as a route?
My advice would be to consider all options i.e. uni or other full time jobs before making a final decision. Don’t mistake the apprenticeship scheme as being a short term money fix. It is hard work so you need to know it is something you want to do as a career. In my opinion, for someone genuinely interested in a career in engineering the apprenticeship scheme is undoubtedly the best path to take.