The Engineering Trust

My Apprenticeship Journey - Jack Forrest - Apprentice Engineer

We catch up with Jack Forrest, apprentice engineer at Chiltern Railways, as he nears the end of his apprenticeship, we thought it a good idea to find out about his apprenticeship journey.

We’ve spoken to Jack before. For those avid readers of our blog (tongue firmly in cheek!) you will recall he was responsible for upgrading Lesley, a Paxman Ruston and Hornsby class 01 diesel locomotive shunter based at the Chiltern Railways depot in Aylesbury where Jack is a 4th year apprentice. As he nears the end of his course, we thought it a good idea to catch up with him again to find out about his apprenticeship journey.  
Can you give us a quick outline of who you are and what your job is?
I am Jack Forrest, an apprentice engineer at Chiltern Railways Aylesbury Depot, currently working as a fitter whilst doing my apprenticeship with ETT. 

What attracted you to engineering and the apprenticeship you are doing?
I’ve been fascinated with working on classic cars since the age of 6. My grandad has a professorship title in mechanics and as far as I can remember, he always has classic car projects such as old Jaguars and Volkswagens, usually about 4 at a time. From the age of 6 I’ve helped him by grabbing tools, lifting larger objects and reading smaller print! He has taught me a lot about mechanical elements and set me on a path to a career in engineering. A friend actually suggested the apprenticeship at Chiltern Railways so I applied and although it’s not working with cars, I can still transfer all of the knowledge over and learn more. I’m still restoring and fixing cars as a hobby.
Tell us about your apprenticeship – what have you been doing for the last 4 years?
The last 4 years have been a wave of knowledge and a vast amount of learning. I’ve enjoyed every single part of it, from working on Lesley (read the Upgrading Lesley blog here) to maintenance jobs and preventative maintenance to class 165 and class 168 trains. I’ve travelled to different depots and outstations to see what they do for the company and have worked on heavy maintenance changing train engines and train power/trailer wheel sets.
Tell us about a challenge or low point you have faced during your apprenticeship and how you overcame it?
I was unfortunate enough to be involved in a head on collision in a car on the way home from college one day. I sustained very serious, life threatening injuries and this prevented me from working. It scared me as I felt like my apprenticeship was over and I had completely ruined my chances. Fortunately for me, I have some fantastic bosses and work for a brilliant company. They were fully behind me the whole time and provided me with as much support as I needed throughout my recovery. I had to learn how to walk again, my injuries should have set me back a couple of years in my apprenticeship but I made it one of my goals and objectives to get better sooner than expected. I wanted to work and I wanted to learn but I knew to do this, I had to get better. The doctors signed me off work for a year and a half however I was back to work jumping in and out of the pits and doing my normal duties in 6 months! They called me a medical miracle!
My strive to work and to learn helped me achieve my goal of getting better and healing 2 broken femurs in 6 months. I have Chiltern Railways and my bosses Colin Page and Chris Sheldon and my apprenticeship Training Officer Mark to thank for helping me get straight back into where I left off. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without them; I cannot thank them enough.

What skills and knowledge we helpful in completing your apprenticeship?
My skills and knowledge of electrical and mechanical engineering through my time at college, my ability to become competent within class 165 and 168 trains and my love for trying to fix and modernised old things such as old trains and old cars.
How do you feel Engineering Trust Training has helped you during your apprenticeship journey?
They [The Engineering Trust] have helped me throughout my time, during my lows and highs. My Training Officer has been there and listened to everything I have said relevant to work or not and seems to take great pride in knowing I’m enjoying myself. I look forward to my meetings with Mark and everyone else I’ve met at ETT have been fantastic, I couldn’t recommend them highly enough.
Tell us about something at work that you are proud to have achieved.
I have achieved the modernisation of Lesley as previously explain. It took a long time to be able to design, develop and produce a working project and I’m really proud of what I achieved. 
How do you see your career developing in the future? – Do you have any aspirations, ambitions & personal goals?
I see myself staying at Chiltern Railways, striving to better my knowledge and gain as much experience as possible. My goal is to be a heavy maintenance fitter, I love working on the jacks and enjoy doing the long tasks of engine changes, alternator changes and wheelsets. Even if this means staying late and seeing a job through.

Would you recommend doing an apprenticeship?
I couldn’t recommend doing an apprenticeship enough. I would seriously suggest one in the Railway as it develops your engineering skills, forms your personality and allows you to work in a community like no other. I take pride in saying I work for the railway. I feel university is often forced onto people these days and puts you into debt. With an apprenticeship, I’ve been paid for my education, I’ve learnt and gain knowledge on the job and gained experience for the whole duration, I don’t see any disadvantages to doing an apprenticeship.
Would you recommend us as an apprentice provider?
As I previously mention, I couldn’t recommend Engineering Trust Training enough. They have been there for me throughout and for anything, they couldn’t be a better organisation.

Is there anything else you would like to add?
Do an apprenticeship! Do one in the Railways and work hard because ultimately it has a big payoff, you set yourself up for life and you won’t regret it.

Written by Jack Forrest
Questions from Mark, ETT Training Officer