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Engineering apprenticeships

engineering apprenticeWhy choose an engineering apprenticeship?

There are four different kinds of engineering – chemical, civil, electrical and mechanical – but each of these can be broken down into even more specialised areas.

Engineering involves taking the principles of maths and science and applying them to different tasks which, ultimately, benefit the human race. Remember when you wondered what the point of algebra was? Well, engineers apply this knowledge in the real world. Engineering therefore appeals to people studying maths, science and technology, but it may be equally interesting for those studying IT, as a lot of engineering involves computer work.

How do I get an apprenticeship?

The easiest way to find and apply for apprenticeships is through the Apprenticeships website. This has a searchable directory of vacancies, and will let you reuse your information from one application to the next so you don't have to start from scratch each time - although it's a good idea to update your application for the specific job you're applying for.

Engineering apprenticeships are available from any number of companies – from British Gas to Rolls Royce – all across the UK. Apprenticeship schemes may be largely "hands-on", and practical. However, all kinds of engineering involve some academic work so you usually need at least GCSE Grade C or the equivalent in English, maths, science and another relevant subject – like design and technology. Bear in mind, too, that some schemes may need you to hold a full or provisional driving license.

An engineering apprenticeship is an excellent way of learning skills, or a trade, while being supported by the company that you work for. You get paid to do it as well!

However it is not always the best choice for everyone. You need good self-discipline and time-management to handle the day-to-day demands of a working life. One of the benefits, though, is that you are effectively a full-time employee. You might be eligible for a pension plan, health care, sports and social activities, and maybe even flexible working hours.

What do apprentices do?

Training is usually provided "on-the-job" – in the workplace, and involving the practical skills, tools and materials required in the "real" world. There will also be some “off-the-job" training, usually at college, where you’ll learn those all-important academic skill.

Sometimes this “off-the-job” training will lead to a recognised qualification, such as a technical certificate, or NVQ ("Non Vocational Qualification"). Some engineering apprenticeships may involve spending longer periods – perhaps several months – at a dedicated training centre, supplemented by working alongside a professional engineer in the field.

In any case, an engineering apprenticeship can provide the perfect grounding for a manufacturing engineer job, or any other engineering role.