A government select committee review of apprenticeships was published in November which called urgently for an elevation of the status of apprenticeships to become par with university education. Siemens, along with many other manufacturing companies, has long held this belief and here Josh Brough, now a production engineer at Siemens Industry explains why being accepted on its apprenticeship programme enhanced his career expectations.
What is your role and responsibilities?
I’m based at the Siemens plant in Congleton and as a production engineer my role is to support the production team as a whole. The role requires innovative problem solving and great teamwork – sharing expertise among the team enables us to tap into a huge wealth of knowledge.
What personal characteristics help your role?
I’m very hands on. I like being able to learn as I go, picking up tips and advice from experienced engineers and working with them to solve challenges. I’m also quite independent and like being given the responsibility of coming up with my own ideas.
What do you consider to be your biggest personal success in your career so far?
Although it was at the very beginning of my career, being accepted on the Siemens apprenticeship programme was an extremely proud moment for me. I’d always been interested in engineering, but knew that an apprenticeship with a company such as Siemens would involve a competitive recruitment process and so when I was offered the role I was over the moon. The programme allowed me to learn on the job for three years while also completing a foundation degree. There is no way I would be in the position I am in now without being given the opportunity to learn the ropes as an apprentice.
What are the most rewarding parts of your job?
I can honestly say I’ve never had a bad day. Through my three-year apprenticeship and now as a production engineer I’ve learnt something new every day. I’m really proud of my work. Being able to use my ideas to support the production line is really rewarding.
What first attracted you to a career in manufacturing?
While at school, I spoke to one of my teachers who had previously been an engineer. He gave me a bit of an insight into what it was all about. After leaving school I was keen to start earning and so began work repairing mobile phones. I really enjoyed the job but wanted to get some more experience, and also gain some qualifications.
What will your next career move be?
I finished my apprenticeship in September 2011 and was offered the role of production engineer. At the moment, I’m happy building on the skills I learnt in my apprenticeship and taking on more responsibility on the production floor. My career ambition however, is to be the head of an engineering team. I would like the responsibility of being a team leader but I’d still want to remain hands-on.
What is the best way to get more young people interested in manufacturing?
I think the image of manufacturing and engineering needs to be improved. A lot of school leavers don’t know what the job opportunities are, and I think the sector as a whole can be viewed quite negatively when compared to other career routes, such as those in the professional services. There are some real opportunities to be successful in the manufacturing industry, and young people just need more advice as to the possibilities available to them, and to hear from past apprentices like me about why this career path is so fulfilling.