To continue our series for National Apprenticeship Week and to tie into International Day of Women & Girls in Science, this blog is from Alex Johnson, one of two great apprentices at Produmax who will be featured today.

My name is Alexandra Johnson, I am 20 years old and currently in my third year of my Quality Engineering Apprenticeship at Produmax. Currently I am in my first year of my Manufacturing Engineering HNC course at Keighley college where I am completing this alongside an NVQ Level 4 in Manufacturing Engineering: Quality Support.

What made you want to pursue a career in the sector and an apprenticeship?

I chose to complete an apprenticeship in quality engineering at Produmax based on the work experience programme I completed with them whilst studying A levels. During my A levels, I was certain I wanted to head down an engineering-based pathway, whether it be a full-time degree or an apprenticeship. In my first year of A levels, I applied for the week’s work experience programme Produmax had promoted, this gave me an idea of all the different areas that I could work in in the future. After a successful week, I found I enjoyed the technical side of the quality department, leading to me spending a day every other week with the quality team, building my skills during this work placement. This valuable time spent at Produmax, led to me choosing an apprenticeship.

What is your day to day role like and has it changed much due to the pandemic?

There have been some massive changes to the level of work for aerospace during the pandemic, but fortunately for me and the team at Produmax, there have been minimal changes to the level of work due to new customers coming on board. With the introduction of these new customers, Produmax has taken the Pandemic as a chance to expand to different transport sectors. This has opened up new opportunities for me and has allowed me to expand my skills and knowledge by learning new specifications and processes.

Generally, on a day to day basis, I will complete lots of first offs and final inspection processes. This will involve visual inspection of parts for defects, damage and burrs, some manual dimension checks and the review of any measuring machine data. This level of inspection (such as sample inspection of 100%) can vary dependent on the type of product being inspected and the customer requirements, these are all things that must be considered and documented where necessary.

Have you worked on any interesting projects/programmes during your apprenticeship and can you provide details any details of the work?

During the three years I have spent of Produmax, I have had the opportunity to work on many interesting projects, the most recent would be the Ventilator Challenge. The pandemic really highlighted the family work ethic of Produmax and brought the whole company together, with the same sole target in mind, the work produced, and the quality of the components were like no other and it was an honour to be part of a national effort.

What has been the best thing about your apprenticeship?

The best part about being an apprentice and an employee at Produmax is the support and advice I am given. Having the ability to work alongside more experienced and highly skilled engineers has given me skills a university degree would not, and I have had the chance to experience first-hand what a true Engineering environment is like. Also, to be a part of a company that really promote apprenticeships and women in engineering is fantastic, Produmax have given me the ability to raise awareness of what apprenticeships are about and what they can offer students is really important. I was never made aware of apprenticeships until my work experience at Produmax and there are still many young people who do not know about them.

Would you recommend an apprenticeship to people looking to make a first step in their career, and why?

An apprenticeship is a fantastic way to learn whilst working and try out classroom-based knowledge in a real-life environment. There is so much support given to apprentices not only in the workplace, but also at college, where most of the basic skills are learnt. I would recommend an apprenticeship to people who thrive from adapting to workplace situations and who have a strong work ethic.

What is your advice to someone who would like to join an apprenticeship scheme in the sector?

To those who are interested in apprenticeships I would recommend applying for work experience programmes, these will often give you a wide range of experiences within a certain company and can really narrow down your areas of interest. There are also such a range of qualifications available to apprentices now, so when applying for different programmes, think about the future and what the company can offer you career wise.

To find out what else is coming up this week and read the other blogs, please read our National Apprenticeship Week 2021 blog.