Still unsure? Here’s Alexandra Widdop’s experience as a year 2 apprentice working in the Neville Hill Depot in Leeds.
Alexandra Widdop, left, and Northern Apprentices
What’s your name?
My Name is Alexandra Widdop, I am 22 years old. I am currently a 2nd year apprentice working at Neville Hill Depot.
How do you personally feel about the benefits of doing an apprenticeship?
The benefits of doing an apprenticeship are that you are able to learn on the job. Most college courses are predominantly course work where as an apprenticeship is both course work and practical. With an apprenticeship you are learning far more than what a book can teach you, you are learning how to solve real problems in real time, you are gaining the knowledge from other workers who have over 20 years of experience in their field. This to me is far more beneficial with growing in a career.
How did you get to where you are today?
Personally I did the typical A level course, I made it one year into A-levels and knew it was not for me, THIS IS OK! I moved on from A-levels and chose to do a nail technician and massage therapy course at college which resulted in me gaining work experience within a salon.
This was a crucial part of my career journey as I learnt a lot about myself, with this job I learnt confidence within myself as well as people skills. However, I knew this was not what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, that’s when I did a complete 180 and applied for an engineering job. It was completely out of my comfort zone but I had grown up tinkering on cars with my brother so I knew I already enjoyed fixing things and being hands on.
This was the best decision I have ever made for my career. I am now in a career with great progression and I am constantly learning new things. I am learning hands-on skills and how to problem solve in real life scenarios.
How do you see Engineering changing in the future and what opportunities do we have to positively impact on building fantastic transport for customers in the future?
In the near future it looks as though most public transport are moving towards electric power. This is something that is completely new as most of the train classes are either diesel, being able to be there whilst these developments occur is definitely interesting. As I am an apprentice at the moment I will be lucky enough to be there when these changes occur and will be able to be some of the ones who get to carry out the transition from diesel to electric passenger trains.
What are your top tips for a young person considering a career in engineering?
My top tip of all is DO IT. The greatest achievements are made when you push yourself outside of your comfort zone. If you don’t know what you want to do, try engineering, there are far more to it then just being a fitter. There are so many different routes you can take from fixing the trains to designing them. Engineering is the future so get involved whilst you can and enjoy the journey!
What is your vision of 2050 and what would you like Engineering to look like in the future?
My vision for engineering in the future is to have younger people join the industry for fresh and new ideas, to have them train alongside the knowledgeable workforce we have now and to grow together.
Why do you think companies need to be encouraging girls/women to go into engineering?
Engineering should be about inclusion of everyone, young/old men/women. We should be encouraging those with an interest in engineering and show them that the opportunities in the industry are endless regardless.
Northern Apprentices at work