Case study – a day in the life of a manufacturing apprentice

Posted on 6 Feb 2020 by The Manufacturer

The task of attracting more young people with critical skills to manufacturing, while dispelling the industry’s unwarranted reputation for belching smokestacks and dilapidated mills, is a monumental one that requires a concerted effort by parents, educational bodies, the UK government, and manufacturing firms alike.

The truth is, for all the challenges presented by the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ – and there are many – there are as many, if not more, opportunities to demonstrate leadership, daring and innovation which will be paramount when building a company that is fighting fit for the trials that lie ahead.

That’s why case studies from successful school leavers entering the manufacturing sector are so valuable and why The Manufacturer has chosen to champion a handful of inspiring individuals.

In a previous article, titled ‘Case study – what a manufacturing apprenticeship is really like’, 19-year-old George Abbott from Paulton near Bath discussed his Mechanical Engineering apprenticeship at adi Group, his resistance to the draw of university which he felt wasn’t suitable for his professional aspirations, learning to weld and then using that new skill to build a technology that estimates adi’s material costs, which he designed using CAD.

In this second article, another adi Group trainee discusses his Engineering, Fabrication and Welding apprenticeship, his disillusionment with traditional routes in higher education, and a nascent interest in engineering stemming from his father which led to his becoming a mentor for other engineering apprentices coming through the ranks at adi and thoughts about a future in Technical Engineering.

This refreshing story also coincides with National Apprenticeship Week (3-7 February).

Kyle Sterry, Engineering, Fabrication and Welding apprentice, adi Group

George Abbot with Alan Lusty
Kyle Sterry with adi Group chief executive officer Alan Lusty

“When I was at school, I always took an interest in engineering, but I wasn’t sure how to get into the industry. I decided to try A-Levels at sixth form, but quickly realised that it wasn’t for me, so I dropped out after the first year to find an engineering apprenticeship.

“My dad has an engineering background, which is where my initial interest came from, and he mentioned adi Group to me. I had been applying everywhere and having no luck, so I was really pleased when I was asked to come along for an interview.

“I started immediately and didn’t really know what to expect, but it was great to get stuck into practical work and projects straight away. I think skills development while working is what makes apprenticeships so much better than A-levels, and adi Group have such a hands-on approach it means the experience is invaluable.

“I started with the basics like cutting materials for the other engineers. As I built more skills and developed in my welding, I took on more independent projects working by myself. I was the first engineering apprentice within our southern division, but now I also look after another apprentice, which is helping me to develop mentoring skills at the same time.

“I am mainly based in Banbury and the workshop in Caldicot, but I also work at customer sites around the country too. Working so closely with the different teams means I am really involved in a variety of projects and the amount of jobs we are acquiring is rapidly increasing. I am really glad I got into engineering when I did, it has been a truly great experience for me. The diverse nature of what adi offer provides me with a wide range of hands-on experience.

“When it comes to the future, the senior team has been really supportive, suggesting that after my apprenticeship I should think about further educational opportunities to develop the more technical and design sides of the business – helping me to further progress my career within the adi Group. It’s something I definitely want to do so I can eventually move up to the project management side of the business. Although this would be a step away from the hands-on side of the job, I think it’s important to learn about all of the different aspects of mechanical engineering, because without knowing the basics I think it would be hard to understand what customers are really after.”

Digitally skilled apprenticeships

Current data suggests that 76% of UK manufacturers are currently offering digitally skilled apprenticeships, while nearly 70% have outlined plans to spend their training budget on technical engineering programmes, which helps to improve the wider economy.

All good news – but there is still more to do, especially in attracting new talent from state-funded schools and among female graduates.

That’s why case studies like George and Kyle’s are so critical in propagating a view of what a career in manufacturing is really like and to inspire other young people to consider the manufacturing industry when leaving school.

For more information about adi Group apprenticeships and careers, please visit

*Headline image courtesy of Shutterstock