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Name: Carter Murphy
Age: 18
Type of engineering: Metrology
Employer: JJ Churchill

Like many 16-year-olds, Carter Murphy left school not having a clue what he wanted to do with his life. ‘I had the option to stay on and do A’levels, but to be honest, I’d had enough of school,’ he says.

Prompted by his teachers to attend a local careers fair, he came across an engineering company looking for engineering apprentices. ‘I was immediately hooked by the idea. The plan was they would send me to college for a year, then I’d be on a day release during the second year and learn on the job for the final year – and all the while, I’d be working towards a diploma in a field of engineering I liked, as well as getting paid.’

One of the engineering options was metrology – the science of measurement. ‘Initially, metrology didn’t grab me - I thought it sounded boring. But I quickly grew to love the work involved in programming machines to measure parts - anything from blades for jet engines to oil pans for diesel engines. It’s incredibly exacting work - a single hair is 100 microns, yet we have to measure down to a single micron.’

The recruitment process wasn’t easy, he admits. ‘There were two interviews, one involving a presentation, which made me nervous. But I really wanted the apprenticeship, so I was determined not to mess it up.’

The college work during his first year involved a constant flow of assignments, says Carter. ‘But the content was fascinating and as a group, we all got on really well and helped each other out. There was a lot of practical work involved too. I created a thermos electric generator – a portable battery using water and heat to create electricity.’

The second year involved four days a week learning on the job and one day a week in college. ‘This is when all the learning really started to come alive and during the third year, the company helped me find my current employer where I work with cutting edge machinery.’

Carter is surprised that there are still so many myths around engineering apprenticeships. ‘So many people assume I have my hands deep in mucky oil all day. But with metrology, even the temperature of the room can affect the size of the part, along with the smallest of vibrations, so it’s a very controlled and clean environment. You feel more like a scientist, wearing a white coat in a white lab.’

Many of Carter’s friends are just starting university. ‘But some can’t because it’s too costly, while others have dropped out. I feel I’ve really landed on my feet earning while I learn and loving what I do – and if I want to go to university in the future, there’s a good chance my employer will contribute or even pay for it.’

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