As we rapidly approach summer and the end of the academic year, many students and school leavers will be considering their next steps in education, whether they should pursue further education or decide to choose an apprenticeship.
Making the decision between an apprenticeship and a degree is a big step! Many people believe that apprenticeships are only for technical industries when there are actually a wide variety of apprenticeships available in England for over 1,500 job roles.
At NanoSUN we are delighted to host a number of apprentices across the business, enabling them to gain valuable experience whilst supporting them in working towards achieving their qualification. We had a chat with them to find out exactly what it is like being an apprentice and what it is like to work for a start-up company like NanoSUN.
I’m Rob and I’m an apprentice studying a HNC in Engineering Manufacturing Technician whilst working as an Electrical Engineer Apprentice at NanoSUN.
Much like anything in life you need to look at what works best for yourself, for me this was an apprenticeship. After 18 years of education and a short run at university, I decided that I needed a break from education. I still wanted to learn and progress, but I didn’t feel I wanted to do that full time in a classroom. With this apprenticeship I am able to work while I learn, which for me just enhances and supplements what I am learning at college. Another benefit is that you earn while you learn!
I have recently completed my first year of college. In this time, I have studied engineering mathematics, engineering science, mechanical principles and managing an engineering project. Moving forward into next year, I will begin with engineering design and CAD, followed by thermodynamics and electrical principles.
After working full time, prior to NanoSUN, for two and a half years at a larger and more established company, I am able to really see the differences and from that the benefits of working for a start-up business. What NanoSUN do as a start-up is really make every individual feel valued and integral to the company. They have great values, which are adhered to and prioritised to ensure all employees are happy at work. For me, as an apprentice, I really appreciate the fact that they make me feel as important to the team as any of the qualified engineers.
Most recently I have been working on the designing, drawing and manufacture of a new air test rig to provide an adaptable platform for testing and demonstrating a variety of gas-path components for safety and performance. This was my first major project, and I had a lot of fun doing it. The design process was difficult at first, as I am still developing my knowledge of what goes where and why. However, I relatively independently drew up and manufactured the rig to a high standard for it to be put to use straight away. This was a time sensitive project, as a test needed to be carried out on the rig immediately after its build, so there could be no mistakes.
One of the highlights so far is working with such a great team. It isn’t too often you can have a morning chat or coffee with the CEO of the company, and this highlights the great relationships throughout the business. I have also really enjoyed getting involved with the projects and seeing the ins and outs of how an engineering firm works. Seeing what goes on and what is coming up really excites me.
The apprenticeship was much more difficult than I had expected it to be. Part of this I would say is down to me having time out of education, it took me some time to readjust to the system. Equally, I feel there are often stereotypes around apprenticeships; that they are easier and hold less meaning. After working through half of my time at college I know this is not the case. I am being challenged constantly and I am having to work hard every week.
The big help is that they are putting me through college. They are helping me financially by paying for my course, but also offering as much support as I need to help me along. Working for NanoSUN is shaping me into a disciplined engineer and the skills I am learning on a daily basis are ones that will benefit me throughout life.
I have never been entirely sure on what my career aspirations are. I know I have a passion for designing and then turning that design into a built and functioning product. Since I have joined NanoSUN, I can see passion and engineering combined in a way that makes me excited about my future. The intricacies and depth in the design process make it more exciting and fulfilling once complete This also applies to the manufacture of the design. Once I have completed my apprenticeship I hope to be an integral part of the NanoSUN engineering team in which I will be designing the latest hydrogen refuellers and getting as hands on with the build as I can.
Don’t underestimate the apprenticeship route. Apprenticeships can be undervalued and misconceived as an ‘easier’ option which is certainly not the case. Any individual wanting to do an apprenticeship in engineering must be ready to work hard in the workplace and the classroom as both work symbiotically. To succeed, both need to be tackled with the same level of enthusiasm and commitment. In doing so the apprenticeship will be fulfilling and enjoyable. It is a path that I would highly recommend.
I’m Amber and I’m the Finance Apprentice at NanoSUN. I’m currently studying a Professional Diploma in Accounting and I have two exams left of my Level 4 AAT Qualification.
On an apprenticeship scheme you gain practical and relevant work experience whilst training for a qualification and earning a salary. Most of my time is spent learning on the job, with one day a week at college. The hands-on training gives me a real chance to put my skills into practice and helps me to gain more confidence in a working environment. Apprenticeships give you fantastic experience in the working world.
I have been learning to apply complex accounting principles, concepts and rules to prepare the financial statements of a limited company. I have also practiced management accounting techniques to aid decision-making and control, prepare and monitor budgets, and measure performance. I also had the choice of a few optional units, of which I chose to do business and personal tax.
As a start-up company we are a small team. I take on tasks outside my job role in order to contribute to the wider business which has helped me develop new skills very quickly. The management and the team work together, so you learn from the more highly skilled people. It is very exciting being involved in a start-up and seeing how the growth of the company provides opportunities for the employees and the business's future.
Since joining NanoSUN in October, I have been working on implementing an ERP system within our business. An Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) System that integrates the main business processes, such as accounting, procurement, project management and supply chain operations. This has allowed us to begin streamlining our processes and move from a manual system to a more automated and efficient system.
I have enjoyed working within a team, with inspiring managers and mentors. I feel excited by the future business prospects and feel fortunate to be involved in such an exciting venture. I have enjoyed the social aspects of the company - even through lockdown we managed to keep morale up by completing challenges via zoom and we regularly get together socially which makes a great team scenario.
No, it has exceeded my expectations in many ways. I enjoy being challenged, and to work full time and study outside of work for exams is a big commitment, but an enjoyable one.
It has made me realise I want to do management accountancy in an organisation, instead of working in an accountancy practice on accounts for small businesses. For me, it is more interesting being involved in the business side of a company and I think it will be very rewarding in the future.
I’ve nearly completed my diploma in accounting with just a business tax exam and then a synoptic exam left, so I have already made plans to start working towards becoming a Chartered Management Accountant by starting a CIMA qualification in January. I will complete this through a day release programme in Liverpool several days a month.
If you are unsure on what career path to take, apprenticeships are a great way to find out if the job is something you would enjoy. Make the most of your apprenticeship opportunities and get involved with everything you have the opportunity to do.
NanoSUN is an advocate of learning, training, and development. We are big believers in apprenticeships and helping people to acquire valuable skills and experience directly within the workplace. Whether it be in Engineering, Finance, Manufacturing, or HR etc, we see apprenticeships as a fantastic opportunity for all businesses within any sector to help young professionals progress into their desired career choice.
Find out more about NanoSUN and our growing team.