The Engineering Trust

Inspiration as to where an Apprenticeship can take you

This week, we chat to ex-ETT apprentice Lydia Feasey. She talks about why she chose to do an apprenticeship, her journey through the programme and how her career and learning has developed since completing her apprenticeship.

Hi Lydia, thanks for taking the time to talk to us.  

Can you give us a quick outline of where you are with your career at present? 
I am an ex-UKAEA apprentice. I started my apprenticeship in 2009 and spent 10 years working in various departments across the site. I moved to Cavendish Nuclear roughly 18 months ago to work as a site engineer on nuclear decommissioning projects.  

What attracted you to engineering and the apprenticeship you did? 
I studied Product Design at A-Level and loved the whole lifecycle of designing and manufacturing a solution to a problem. This inspired me to look into a career in engineering. I applied to various local companies, but chose Culham due to the broad variety of interesting training placements available throughout the apprenticeship. 

Tell us about your apprenticeship – what did you do in your apprenticeship? 
Throughout the apprenticeship I completed 10x 3-month training placements around the site, in areas such as the Design Office, Stress Analysis, Electronics, Installation and Maintenance and Health Physics. Alongside the on-site training placements, I also completed qualifications, such as an ONC in Mechanical Engineering, a Foundation Degree, and NVQ’s at level 2 and 3.  

Tell us about a challenge or low point you have faced during your career so far and how you overcame it. 
The past year has been particularly challenging, with all the imposed restrictions due to Covid, trying to carry out a site-based role from home, as well as the prospect of redundancy. However, I am confident that the knowledge and experience I have gained so far in my career will put me in a good position going forwards. 

Give us a few things you feel you have gained from your engineering journey so far… 
It’s difficult to list just a few things I have gained so far during my career, because the list is so long. Two of the biggest things are probably confidence and people skills, but as well as this I have gained qualifications, including a degree, as well as vital transferable skills and engineering knowledge.  

What advice would you pass onto someone who is just about to embark on their engineering career? 
Try to gain as much as you possibly can from the experienced people you will be working alongside. Be keen and never be afraid to ask questions! It’s definitely true that the more you put into an apprenticeship, the more you will get out of it.  

What would you say to encourage other women into an apprenticeship and engineering career? 
For me, my gender has never been an issue or stopped me from doing something that I want to do. Although engineering is historically a ‘male career’ and as such is still very male dominated, there are more and more women entering the industry and diversifying engineering. The best piece of advice I could give is that if you are interested in engineering, go for it. It is such a broad industry that you will definitely find something that you enjoy.

How do you feel ETT helped you during your apprenticeship journey? 
I actually met someone from the Engineering Trust at a careers event at my school, so the conversation that I had with you was the very first step on my journey. I applied for an apprenticeship through ETT and completed the initial assessments, before successfully becoming one of their employers’ apprentices. ETT provided excellent support throughout my apprenticeship and have always been a friendly and familiar face – from my very first days at college, to attending a Women in Engineering Day event a few years after my apprenticeship.  

Tell us about something in your career so far that you are proud to have achieved. 
I am proud of all my achievements and how far I have come so far. I am particularly proud of winning the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) Apprentice of the Year 2013. 

How do you see your career developing in the future? – Do you have any particular aspirations, ambitions & personal goals? 
I am keen to keep progressing in my career and continuing to learn new things. Over the past few years, I have worked on engineering projects, which have been fun. I am currently completing a Project Managing Qualification, because this is an area that I have always enjoyed. In the past I have found it very rewarding working with apprentices and students and inspiring young people early on in their careers, so this is something I would like to become more involved with again in the future.  

Would you recommend doing an apprenticeship? 
Yes, definitely. I strongly believe it is the best way to start a career in engineering, by gaining the vital hands-on experience alongside qualifications.  

Would you recommend us as an apprenticeship provider? 
Yes – ETT have always been very supportive and their encouragement definitely helped me along my journey.  

Thanks again Lydia for taking us through your apprenticeship journey and best of luck with the rest of your career!  

Questions by Mark, ETT Training Officer