My name is Rhys Goulden, I am 25 and from Seaham. Last October, I started a BEng degree apprenticeship in manufacturing engineering at Unipres UK.
When I was 14, I had to complete a work experience week for school. With Unipres UK being one of the main manufacturing organisations based in the North East, supplying key structural components to the automotive sector, I contacted them.
During my placement, I became aware of the opportunity of apprenticeships at Unipres and how they could provide a future in a range of roles within the business.
Background: Tes launches #InspiringApprentices campaign
Other news: Minister backs #InspiringApprentices campaign
Committing to apprenticeships
To be honest, I feel apprenticeships 10 years ago were not as highly promoted as they are today. Your future was meant to be full-time education, and so I felt pressured to go to college when leaving school, and completed my level 3 diploma.
I expected the apprenticeship to be challenging but rewarding. I know Unipres are very committed to apprenticeships and the importance they play to the business’ future. If an employer is as supportive as Unipres through your apprenticeship, the challenge becomes much more achievable. And if you are willing to put the effort into your apprenticeship, it provides the foundations to your life-long career.
I have been an apprentice at Unipres for the past six years, completing an advanced apprenticeship in a maintenance role before starting this degree apprenticeship.
On a daily basis, I work on the efficiency and effectiveness of our manufacturing processes. I define processes that could or need to be improved. I collect reliable data and measure the current performances against potential or targets based on key performance indicators. My job role is to minimise input into a process whilst also maximising the output. I could review a process and re-design the current method to produce twice as many parts during the same production time.
This is very rewarding as you can physically see your efforts improving the business on both a time reduction and profit basis. I enjoy my job role very much as I work with a range on colleagues from a range of business functions from purchasing to assembly. I’m an individual who likes to make a difference and in this engineering role, that is exactly what I can do.
Since joining Unipres, I have always felt welcome and have had the support of dedicated apprentice mentors and training coordinators. They provide advice and are extremely understanding of individual circumstances. Whenever I have had an issue I have been able to speak to them, and all other colleagues are respectful and show patience towards apprentices.
Learning new things
My favourite part is continuing to learn new things and improving as an individual. I love making a difference and as a newly promoted engineer, I can combine my current knowledge and the knowledge I am gaining through the degree apprenticeship to improve manufacturing processes. I have always enjoyed being part of a team.
Comparing this experience to my friends who chose university, they have a considerable amount of debt with the same educational background as me. I am completing my degree through the apprenticeship, which means no debt and at the same time earning a fantastic wage. I have found that some of my friends have gone to find jobs after their degree but still end up going onto a training program. At the end of my apprenticeship, I will be fully fitted into the role as I have the vocational experience during my apprenticeship so will not require further training.
I grew up with my grandparents and I still remember my granddad holding my letter from Unipres when I walked through the door; sitting waiting for me to open it. He was so excited to know I was going to earn a wage whilst creating a career for myself. I was asked to attend a factory tour before I started and he just had to come along.
In a few years, I want to be a departmental manager. Everything I have achieved and done has been because of the experience and knowledge I have gained through my apprenticeship. To put it simply: apprenticeships work.
Rhys Goulden is doing a BEng degree apprenticeship in manufacturing engineering at Unipres UK Limited. His blog is part of the Tes #InspiringApprentices campaign