Apprenticeships offer the chance to earn while you learn and get a qualification at the same time. You’ll also gain valuable work experience, which can help when you come to apply for jobs in the future.
So what does it mean to be an apprentice? Get the inside view from Lucy Ackland from Renishaw, as she shares her journey from GCSEs to award winning engineer.
Lucy Ackland from Renishaw
“When I was 13 I decided I wanted to be an engineer because I enjoyed maths and science, and I liked building and fixing things. I was determined to get good GCSE grades and my school had already pinned their hopes on me continuing on to 6th form, then studying at University.
On the run up to my GCSEs, I started to get itchy feet. I knew what I wanted to do and I just wanted to get started. I looked around at local colleges and sixth form centres to find courses that were more engineering focused than anything my school was offering. I came across an advert in the local newspaper for apprenticeships at Renishaw. Not knowing much about apprenticeships, I started to do some research and it all made sense; learning whilst on the job, gaining real qualifications, earning money and all college fees paid. I sent in my application and successfully made it through the test and interview phases. I completed my GCSEs, achieved the grades I was predicted and started at Renishaw in the summer of 2004.
I have loved every stage of my career since then. I succeeded in every job placement around the company and passed all of my college courses. I continued my studies and in 2012 I achieved a first class honours degree in mechanical and manufacturing engineering.
For the last year I have been leading a team developing the next generation of metal 3D printer. This technology is fantastic and the industry is growing; it’s fast paced, exciting and competitive and I am really, really proud to say that I have been a part of it.
Another big part of my passion is providing experiences and information to young people in the area, to allow them to make some choices about their careers and their futures. I became a STEM ambassador, a Young Engineers volunteer, running after school engineering clubs and giving talks about my experiences. I have continued to participate in these kinds of activities throughout my career. In early 2014 I was asked to be a director and trustee of the charity Young Engineers, and in summer 2014 I was nominated for the Institute of Engineering & Technology’s Young Women Engineer of the year awards. At an awards ceremony in London in December I was announced as the winner of the Women’s Engineering Society prize for all of my work in 3D printing and also my continued support of STEM engagement with young people.”
Has Lucy inspired you to consider an apprenticeship? Check out more great advice about apprenticeships.