Taking on an apprentice for the first time
This week we talk to EWB Solutions who have just taken on their first apprentice. We also spoke with Adam who is that apprentice in order to find out about both sides of the story.
Hi Alister, thanks for taking the time to answer some questions.
Can you give me the brief history of EWB Solutions and what you do?
EWB has been going for 20 years and was formed by 3 engineers who split off from companies who worked in similar markets. We have grown from 3 guys and a welding machine to a circa £2 million turnover business employing 20 people. The business is now part of the Judges Scientific Group who own 16 businesses (all in the UK) mostly working in high science and instrumentation industries. We manufacture edge welded bellows which are flexible steel component used mainly in ultra-high vacuum applications to hermetically seal moving components and elements.
Is this your first time recruiting an apprentice?
It’s been something we’ve been thinking about for a few years, but this is the first apprentice we have taken on.
What are you looking for in a young person when recruiting?
We were looking for an eagerness to learn and someone who showed obvious signs of having an existing interest in engineering.
How do see apprentices fit into your business?
We’re a small company, so we will be expecting our apprentice (Adam) to take a part in every aspect of our business. During his 3 years, he will be involved with work such as planned maintenance and fault finding on the various machines we have on site, design work, CAD drawing and working in the machine shop on the mill and lathes.
Can you summarise the benefits of having apprentice on-board?
Adam is our first apprentice, so this is unclear yet, but we’re hoping to be able to train a cross-functional engineer that will be able to perform any engineering function within our business. Engineers that join us from the university route are great, in fact we have a great young graduate engineer who works as our applications engineer. However, university graduates tend to have very little practical experience. We are hoping that Adam, after his 3 years, will be able to design a part, draw it up on CAD, but then also be able to take the drawing down to the machine shop and manufacture it, then finish the job by fitting the part onto a machine himself.
How have you found working with us?
So far so good, but the training has only just started!
Good point, any thoughts then on the recruitment process?
Very good, very helpful. The process would have been very difficult and time consuming without the work ETT does to build a shortlist of candidates. What stood out for you with the apprentice that you recruited? Apart from his height? Adam was a year or so older than some of the applicants and his maturity was evident. He communicated well and could demonstrate that he had been interested in engineering since an early age.
What would you say is the most important thing that a young person needs to think about when applying for an apprenticeship?
Do they have a passion for engineering? Do they enjoy getting their hands dirty? Are they intrigued enough to find out how stuff works? If they have something that’s broken are their first thoughts about how they might be able to fix it or to search on Amazon for a new one?
Thank you Alister for the insight.
So Adam over to you. Thanks for taking the time to speak to us.
Why do you want to be an engineer and when did you know it was the career you wanted to follow?
I knew I wanted to be an Engineer after I left School. I didn’t know what I wanted to do after my GCSE’s until my parents suggested I do an engineering course at college. Once I completed my college course I began to research into doing an apprenticeship and here I am.
What interested you in doing an apprenticeship?
I have always been a hands on learner and prefer it to learning solely from a book or listening in class.
What support did you get from your school/college choosing a career path?
At college we had one lesson a week supported by a teacher where we would research our options after we had completed the course. This highlighted both the apprenticeships route and University options.
How did you find your apprenticeship, what was the process like?
The process supported by the Engineering Trust Training was easier than if I had done it by myself. I completed the online assessment, had a friendly phone call and then was put forward by the Engineering trust for any apprenticeship which suited me.
What apprenticeship are you doing and when did you start your apprenticeship?
I’m doing the level 4 Engineering Manufacturing Technician apprenticeship standard which also gets me an HNC. The role was at level 3 however the course I did at college meant I could move straight onto the level 4 and EWB were happy for me to do that. I started in July 2020.
What attracted you to the EWBS vacancy?
The job description was really interesting. I looked on their website and what they were also really interesting.
What was the interview process with EWBS like?
I completed the first round via a video call as we were all still in covid lockdown. I then had a face to face interview plus 2-day work experience session to see if I like the day to day business.
How did you know that EWBS was a company you would like to work for?
I knew after the first two steps of the interview process. Daniel and Alistair made me feel comfortable during the interviews and I got on well with them. The work experience days confirmed I had made the right choice.
Tell us about what you will be doing and learning about at EWBS?
The process of manufacturing machine welded bellows. The apprenticeship has lots of different aspects to it and the business really want me to be multi-skilled by the end of the process.
What has been a typical day at EWBS?
At present I am running one of the ID welding machines on a day to day basis.
What are you most excited about learning at EWBS and your apprenticeship?
I am most excited about the depth of the engineering process at EWB and am keen as the role and apprenticeship will challenge me.
What advice would you give to young people thinking about an apprenticeship?
Go into an apprenticeship if you like hands on learning. If taking notes / listening in class is more your things, then maybe consider University.
Thanks again Alister and Adam, that’s a brilliant insight into your business and your apprenticeship scheme.
Questions by Yvette, ETT Marketing and Recruitment