National Apprenticeship Week is an annual, week-long celebration that aims to shine a light on apprenticeships and the benefits they can provide to young people, organisations and communities. At Blackrow, we are proud to commit to recruiting local talent via apprenticeship schemes.

We have been using apprenticeships to recruit young aspiring engineers for several years, allowing us not only to shape the engineering talent of the future but also to instil them with the Blackrow Group ethos.

We currently have 15 apprentices and a further 15 employees who have previously completed apprenticeships with us and continued their careers at Blackrow. When we look at taking on apprentices, it is with a view for the individual to then go on to have a career with us at Blackrow. When we advertise a vacancy, it is because we require that skill set, and therefore we intend there to be a job at the end for the individual.

Our approach to bringing in young people from our local community begins with our work experience programme. We have several intakes a year, which allows prospective future engineers to spend time with each of our departments, seeing what particular engineering area inspires them and hopefully encouraging them to return to us as an apprentice.

We spoke to several past and present apprentices to find out more about their apprenticeship.

Ryan Meggitt, fourth-year Apprentice Sheet Metal Worker

Ryan Meggitt is currently employed as a fourth-year Apprentice Sheet Metal Worker and will soon become a qualified tradesman in August 2022. Ryan explained that he came across the apprenticeship opportunity through HETA on the Stallingborough Industrial Estate when he was in school. He completed a year at HETA on block release before continuing his learning at Blackrow; up until the end of his third year, he had regular coursework to submit with an assessment at the end.

He had not been initially set on engineering but fell into it through family that work at Blackrow. Ryan has found he has enjoyed an apprenticeship in engineering, commenting that the ability to "learn and earn a living" had been a great benefit for him. Ryan's advice for anyone considering an apprenticeship is to "take the opportunity to come and do work experience; you can try that and see if you want to pursue it."

Tom Mears, Draughts Person

Tom Mears is currently employed at Blackrow as a Draughts Person following the successful completion of his five-year advanced apprenticeship. Tom started his apprenticeship straight after leaving school, which involved a year at the CATCH centre in Stallingborough and then training at the Blackrow headquarters in Grimsby for the remainder of his apprenticeship, which involved him doing an HNC and HND with North Lindsey College.

Tom finished his apprenticeship three years ago before being offered a permanent position at Blackrow. He had been attracted to an apprenticeship instead of an alternative career pathway after seeing friends attend college and other education centres but then never doing anything with their qualifications. But, Tom commented, "I stuck with it; it's a career, not just training."

Tom added, "at the time, it might not have seemed as much of a 'fun' option, with friends at college, but it has stood me in good stead for the rest of my life." As for engineering, Tom felt that living in Grimsby, there were many opportunities to pursue that career. The other things that attracted him were, "it is a decent living with lots of avenues you can go down once you are in the profession."

Tom added, "I enjoyed the aspect of learning on the job from people doing the job; there are people in our office that I have worked with since starting the apprenticeship that I continue to work with to this day. They have a lot of knowledge, and there is always something else that I can be learning."

He added that he had had several course opportunities since finishing his apprenticeship to further his training and better himself. His HND training is equivalent to a first-year degree level course. Tom's advice for anyone considering an apprenticeship is to "go for it. It is a big decision because you are going into full-time employment from school, which sounds quite daunting, but it's not once you try it. Once you have finished your apprenticeship, you have that qualification for life.”

Kallem Goodwin, Machinist

Kallem finished his apprenticeship around two years ago. Like Ryan, he completed his first year at HETA. When Kallem started his apprenticeship, he had been stuck with not knowing what he wanted to do, but having a family member in engineering helped to inspire and point him towards this career.

Kallem had also previously completed some work experience at Blackrow, which he had enjoyed and helped to encourage him to apply. Kallem commented, "once I started, I found it was much more suited for me than the other options like college." He enjoyed that the job was more hands-on, rather than sitting behind a computer that didn't appeal to him.

He explained that he enjoyed the apprenticeship because "actually learning the skill encourages you, you realise that you are capable and you do have a bit about you." In addition, the feeling of learning to do things independently was a nice feeling for him.

Kallems advice for someone considering an apprenticeship is to "try and do as much work experience as you can; if you make a good impression, people will remember you, and this will help when applying for your apprenticeship."

Libby Booker, second-year Apprentice Draughts Person

Libby is currently undergoing a four-year apprenticeship, where she attends CATCH Stallingborough one day a week. Libby had been interested in engineering from a young age but found that her options at school were limited. However, when it came to the apprenticeship route, Libby had a family member at Blackrow who had pointed out the opportunity and wanted to pursue it.

Libby is enjoying her apprenticeship and commented, "every day you learn something, it is harder than I expected it to be, but at the end of it, it will be worth it having put the effort in."

Libby finished, "my advice for anyone considering an apprenticeship is to go for it and explore your options. From my perspective of being a young woman, it isn't something I wouldn't have seen myself doing, but I'm glad I explored my options and went out of my comfort zone to pursue something I'm interested in."