This week, we are delighted to share the story of Jack Lee, who joined us as a Junior CAD Technician in 2018 and has since been promoted to Assistant Engineer. In a world adamant that only the higher education route can provide young people the skills necessary to pursue their desired career, Jack’s story proves that apprenticeship programmes can set you up for success, and help young people avoid being caught in the crippling student loan debt epidemic. Let’s see what Jack had to say!
During my time at secondary school, I had an opportunity to visit a local design consultancy named FJD Consulting through a work experience programme. This opportunity allowed me to gain a better understanding of what a career in engineering involved and allowed me to experience first-hand both the design and the engineering sides of the deliverables FJD produces.
I attended Windsor High School and left in 2018 achieving 10 GCSE’s graded A-C. Upon completion of my GCSE’s, I had the crucial decision to make - what path I would like to choose in life, after reviewing all the courses my local college had to offer, the construction courses piqued my interest, and I knew that this was the sector I wanted to pursue. I decided against further education though A-Levels because the courses offered at my local sixth form were too broad, and therefore not applicable to my construction interest. Coincidently, at the same time as my search for further education, it was communicated to me that the business I previously visited for work experience, was looking to recruit apprentices.
I realised that this apprenticeship opportunity would give me the best foundation for my career as I would be able to gain on the job experience while attending college on a day release programme to study Level 3 Construction and the Built Environment. During this time, my classmates were pursuing A-Levels and working low-skilled jobs on the evenings and/or weekends. This put me in a much better position than my peers as I had already started my career earning money and gaining vital on the job experience which allowed me to apply the knowledge that I had gained in education. My role as a Technician was to use my engineering knowledge, together with Computer-Aided Design (CAD) software, to create 2D/3D CAD models used to create multiple drawings and section views for construction purposes.
After completion of my Level 3 course, I decided that I would need to continue my education to achieve my aspiration of becoming a Civil Engineer. FJD once again sponsored me to start a Level 4 apprenticeship within the same subject. While studying for my HNC, though my work I started to pick up the engineering aspects of the work which later led to my promotion to Assistant Engineer. This new role would provide me with additional responsibilities, such as producing risk assessments, bills of quantities and report writing. This allowed me to take a positive step towards becoming a Civil Engineer as I had decided that just sticking to CAD would not have as much progression, as I see myself producing my own designs in the future.
Looking back on my experience, I would fully recommend an apprenticeship route into the industry as it has allowed me to gain essential on the job experience, whilst also progressing through my education. Allowing me to gain knowledge and simultaneously applying it in everyday life. This opportunity has allowed me to work on large scale projects with significant importance, after proving what I have learnt and putting it into practice.
To know that the designs I have created were constructed gives me a profound sense of satisfaction, recognising what once was my design has become reality. I have realized that work experience is particularly important to get a foothold in the industry as well as allowing an individual to start their career much earlier on than compared to someone who is receiving full-time education. The best thing about the apprenticeship is to be able to earn my way in life doing a job I enjoy, and it is great knowing that I will come out of the apprenticeship with the qualifications I require, minus the university debt.
I would highly recommend someone to seek an apprenticeship should they want to join the workforce early on and are not as keen on full-time education like myself. I believe it is a far better choice to give yourself a solid foundation for your career.