Josh, 19, is an apprentice toolmaker working at Cross Manufacturing in Bath, a leading manufacturer of aerospace seals, aircraft piston rings and custom seal rings for aircraft engines, steam turbines, vehicle turbochargers and control valves.
He has been at Bath College since he was 16-years-old, completing a Level 2 NVQ Diploma in Performing Engineering Operations before progressing to become an apprentice.
During the first two years of his apprenticeship, he successfully completed the City Guilds Level 3 Engineering and is now currently studying for a BTEC Level 3 Engineering.
Can you tell us about working at Cross Manufacturing?
We’re based near St Martin’s Hospital, Bath, and the site has quite a bit of history. The business has been on the same site since it opened in 1938. The factory is part of an old quarry, so until people visit they don’t realise how big it is. I find working at the company enjoyable and interesting, everyone is really friendly and helpful.
How did you get your apprenticeship?
Bath College is really good at setting up interviews for apprenticeships, that’s how I got my interview for Cross Manufacturing. Rob Aldous, from the apprenticeships team, told me about the opportunity. Now he provides support, coming to the company once a month to check my work. I record the work I do, I do a write-up, take pictures and drawings, and then he marks it according to the training scheme.
What do you enjoy about your apprenticeship?
I enjoy the fact that there’s something different to do each day. At the moment I’m on the factory floor making parts for machines. I’ve also had the chance to do CNC (Computer Numerical Control).
Doing the programming helped improve my maths skills, I would write everything down on paper and programme it into the machine. After a while you start to build up a visual picture for what the end product will look like.
You get to work on different things within the company. It’s a big place, there’s 15 to 20 people in the tool room and then you have the ring shop and the winding shop. As long as I’m on a machine I’m happy. Sometimes I make a mistake, but I try not to lose confidence. Someone told me ‘think twice and do it once’, which is good advice because once you’ve cut something that’s it.
When I look at what I have made I feel proud, especially if it’s a hard job. I take quite a bit of pride in what I do, everything has to be measured correctly otherwise I’m not happy with it.
Why did you choose to study for an apprenticeship?
I enjoyed the Level 2 PEO Engineering course and decided engineering was the career for me. Some people go to university, but for me an apprenticeship was the way forwards. You learn and earn at the same time.
What do you hope to do when you’ve finished your qualification?
I’m hoping to stay where I am. I’m really enjoying working at Cross Manufacturing, I get on well with the team I work with. I like socialising and having a bit of a laugh with them.
How have you improved since starting your apprenticeship?
I feel that I have grown in confidence and my attention to detail has improved. When I opted for my apprenticeship, I was told the maths was going to be at a higher level. However since being an apprentice, my maths has improved without me realising.
Do you have any advice for someone thinking of an apprenticeship?
It’s worth signing up to the national apprenticeships website to see what companies are offering locally. If you have an interview and are unsuccessful don’t give up, just keep looking. Some people get down-hearted, but it’s just about waiting for the right opportunity.
For the first couple of weeks, take it as it comes and if you make a mistake don’t panic about telling someone. You’re expected to make mistakes at first, and you can learn from them. Finally, if you’re given homework do it straight away otherwise work will pile up and you’ll fall behind.
There can be a lot of college work, so when you have an assignment answer what you can and get your tutor to explain the rest. Then you can combine the two things, instead of waiting for your tutor and leaving everything until later.