Bath College works with over 260 businesses, who employ over 450 apprentices, making it the largest provider of apprenticeships in the Bath and North East Somerset area.
Anna Parkinson, our Apprentice of the Month, is working at engineering company Rotork, a major employer in Bath and a market leader in industrial valve actuation and flow control. Find out how she’s benefiting by working and studying as an apprentice here.
Can you tell us how your apprenticeships scheme works?
Throughout the apprentice scheme, time is allocated to working in a number of departments in the company to gain experience with all aspects of the organisation.
The first year of the apprenticeship is spent in college gaining a performing engineering operations (PEO) qualification and a BTEC Level 2 in engineering. In the second year, the BTEC in engineering includes a day release from work, and the other four days of the week are spent in the company doing department rotation.
During the third and fourth year, a HNC qualification in mechanical and/or electrical engineering is taken on. During this time, the apprentice moves around the departments within the company completing various jobs and projects. Once the four years are completed, if there is a suitable job available, the apprentice is offered it within a certain department at Rotork.
What was the progression route for you into an apprenticeship?
I joined Rotork in August 2015 as a technical apprentice and I graduate in August 2019. On completing my A-levels in maths, physics and chemistry, I chose to do an apprenticeship at Rotork rather than going to university. I chose to do this to stay ahead of graduates, gain valuable experience and continue with further education while being paid.
What does a typical day look like for you and what’s the best bit about your day?
Regular changes to my day-to-day activities means each day holds something different, making the job interesting. Learning new skills is a regular occurrence and I was warmly welcomed into the company by all members of staff.
A typical day would involve progressing and completing a variety of jobs given to me by my line manager or supervisor, along with progressing a technical project if applicable. The best bit about the day is the satisfaction that the work I’m doing is beneficial to the department and the company; working within friendly teams is another highlight.
What do you think the benefits are of studying this way?
As an apprentice, I get the best of both worlds: my passion is STEM subjects and I am continuing to apply this in a working environment. Rotork’s technical apprenticeship scheme has greatly improved my analytical and practical skills in engineering, especially maths-based problem solving skills. People can leave university with large debts and no guarantee of a job, but with an apprenticeship I am one step ahead with my career.
Click the picture to hear from apprentice of the month Scott Jardine
How are you supported in the workplace and at college to achieve your qualification?
Bath has become a very well-established college for engineering, with more and more people taking courses in the subject. The college has great resources available for my use, including personal computers, a library and a student advice centre. My course lecturers, who teach me, have been very helpful, organised, and professional throughout my learning experience.
Within the workplace, I have a mentor and have regular reviews with my assessor; the support I receive is excellent.
Where do you see yourself in the future? Do you feel as though there are plenty of opportunities to progress?
My ambitions for the future are to graduate from my HNC in electrical engineering and continue higher education and work-based training. I would like to develop my roles and responsibilities whilst incorporating travel with my job. I see this as a great way of learning and exploring the many divisions and sectors Rotork cover, leading to the long-term goal of becoming a manager for a department with customer facing interaction.
Do you feel as though your apprenticeship has opened doors for you?
Absolutely: I have a foot in the industry at such an early stage in my career, and am developing personal skills which is massively beneficial. I am experiencing working in many areas of the business and identifying what suits me – this isn’t experienced at university.
On the social side, I have a close group of friends (the apprentice team) and we are lucky enough to attend events; Christmas dinners, nights out, joining sports teams, the annual dinner and dance. Rotork sponsors Bath rugby and I was fortunate to be able to watch a match in the corporate box.
I am treated the same as any other member of staff and have enjoyed meeting new people from all levels of the business, enabling me to build professional contacts that’ll benefit my future. Once I’ve completed the apprenticeship, I’ll have credentials and transferrable skills that will be valued anywhere I go.