UK Manufacturer ASL, located in Lewes, East Sussex has been recruiting apprentices since early 2012 via the UK Apprenticeship Service. Working with local training provider Sigta Training, ASL currently employs five apprentices, four in engineering and one in business and administration, at ASL’s head office in Lewes.
An apprenticeship is a genuine job combining practical training whilst working with study. Apprenticeships can run for up to four years and include on the job and off the job training and are available at Intermediate, Advanced, Higher and Degree levels. Apprenticeships are available in a very wide variety of subjects including electronics, mechanical engineering, building services, welding and fabrication, electrical engineering, sheet metal work, plant maintenance, business administration and many more.
A full list of available apprenticeships can be found on the GOV.UK website. At any one time there are between twelve and twenty thousand apprenticeship vacancies online. Applicants can search the GOV.UK website using keywords to find the apprenticeship they are looking for.
Once accepted for a position, a training provider, Sigta Training in the example of ASL, has a key role to play in providing off-the-job training, assessing progress towards achieving qualification and providing support during an apprenticeship.
Annette Brown, HR for ASL comments, “We currently have five apprentices within the team at ASL. Apprentices have to work hard to succeed, juggling their studies whilst working, and they have to produce a portfolio of evidence to support their learning”.
“There is no guarantee that apprentices will be offered full-time employment once they complete their apprenticeship but I am happy to report that Sigta Training has been an excellent apprenticeship partner to work with and since we started working with Sigta, all ASL apprentices have been offered full-time employment with the company”, continues Brown.
Jason Dann, Technical Project Manager
Jason Dann completed his CAD apprenticeship with ASL and Sigta two years ago and is now employed in the role of Technical Project Manager for ASL. Gemma Eastwood, employed in a Sales Support role with the company, completed her business and administration apprenticeship earlier this year. Gemma now assists with training ASL’s newest apprentice, Emily Bonner, who is employed in Gemma’s previous receptionist roles and general administration duties.
Jason Dann comments, “The best thing to come out of my apprenticeship with ASL is an actual job. By the end of the apprenticeship you realise how valuable you are to the company and how much they appreciate your skill set. Companies don’t want to lose you, good companies like ASL value apprentices”.
“I enrolled on an apprenticeship rather than going to college or university because of the experience I would be offered and I wanted to be earning an income at the same time. Most of the companies I speak to value apprenticeships above purely academic qualifications gained at college. I know a lot of people in this industry and they actually prefer people to come up through a training scheme rather than through university. You definitely gain a lot of knowledge and hands-on experience working within a company in the industry”, continues Dann.
“I currently run project management for a rail network, where we are removing old public address systems and installing new ones in more than one hundred train stations. ASL has been very good to me, I informed the company that I wanted to be managing projects and they drafted a route for me to get there and gain all this experience”, states Dann.
“One of the things I have enjoyed the most is gaining knowledge and experience from senior people within the company. I started in 2D then 3D design and was trained in test, build, manufacturing, software and firmware to gain the relevant experience to get where I wanted to be”, concludes Dann.
Gemma Eastwood, Sales Support
Gemma Eastwood continues, “My apprenticeship gave me a starting point and gave me experience of working in a professional workplace. I found out about the apprenticeships on the government website and applied. ASL has been very good in giving me the knowledge I needed to complete my apprenticeship”.
“My apprenticeship was work based and Annette Brown in HR at ASL provided lots of ongoing of support. Sigta came in regularly, once a month, to assist my progress and steer my development”, continues Eastwood.
“My apprenticeship has been really good for me and has allowed me to progress from receptionist and general administration duties to a sales support role. I now provide sales quotations for customers, customer support and deal with telephone enquiries from customers and I really enjoy the variety my role offers”, summarises Eastwood.
David Worth, Engineering Apprentice
David Worth, employed as an Engineering Apprentice in the Qualification Team at ASL is midway through his apprenticeship. Having started in April 2016 he will conclude his apprenticeship in November 2019. He began his apprenticeship with ASL working as a CAD engineer studying in Electrical Engineering. He hopes to achieve an Advanced / Level 3 Diploma and will spend his final year amassing evidence and experience to meet his qualification.
“My apprenticeship with ASL has allowed me to develop my skillset and I now carry out lots of test work for equipment before it is despatched to site. I started at the age of twenty two after leaving college with my A-levels and taking a few jobs in retail before deciding what I wanted to do”, continues Worth.
“The company has been really important in helping me achieve my development and growth objectives and provides lots of opportunities for me to stretch my legs in my role, particularly if I compare my experiences with those offered to my peers completing apprenticeships in other companies”.
David Underwood, Sigta Training, picks up the story, “We have a great track record matching apprentices with high quality companies offering apprenticeships in a wide range of engineering, manufacturing and business administration courses”.
“We choose to work with excellent companies willing to engage in real career development and opportunities for young people. We provide access to careers for young people and allow them to develop skill sets that cause them to progress within the companies they are working for”.
“We visit apprentices regularly during their apprenticeship to monitor, review and assist their development and ensure they are being treated well and remunerated accordingly”, adds Underwood.
“We also work very hard locally and national to encourage young people to get on board with apprenticeships, visiting lots of schools, colleges and local events to promote the wide variety of apprenticeships available with Sigta Training. I’ve lost count of the number of company CEO’s, directors etc that I meet later in their life who tell me they started their careers with a Sigta apprenticeship”, concludes Underwood.
Apprenticeships are returning to favour, certainly as far as the apprentices at ASL are concerned. It appears this is an increasing trend with younger people as they recognise they can access careers of their choosing whilst potentially ‘earning and learning’ at the same time. The apprentices at ASL are very optimistic about their futures.
George Workman, CAD Apprentice
George Workman, a CAD apprentice with ASL, joined the team in 2018 after finishing his A-levels and studying a BTEC in Engineering at college. He decided he didn’t want to continue his studies at University and also found the position with ASL on the government apprenticeship website.
“Since starting at ASL I have had to learn a lot of software packages, I’ve learned animation, 3D modelling and acoustic design and it’s been really nice to get into detailed use of the software”.
“The training at ASL has been excellent, 90% of my electrical knowledge has been gained here”.
“My role here is very varied, I’ve been to site and I’m now responsible for rack build schematics for projects, as well as the electrical schematics, working to EN54 standards, it’s challenging, intense but at the same time really great for my own personal development”, summarises Workman.
Emily Bonner, Business & Administration Apprentice
Emily Bonner, ASL’s newest apprentice in business and administration sums up the benefits of getting on board with an apprenticeship at ASL adding, “After leaving college and working in retail jobs I found the opportunity at ASL. My job here is a lot more business minded than where I worked before and whilst I am very new here I am receiving great training from Annette Brown and Sigta, who visit me at work once a month. Hopefully my apprenticeship may lead me to a role in accounts or something similar in the future”.