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Name: Matthew
Age: 27
Type of engineering: Electrical and Electronic Engineering
Employer: Branston

Matthew realised long ago that he’s a kinaesthetic learner. ‘I’m so much better at learning through doing rather than sitting listening to lectures. So I knew I’d be well suited to both engineering and an apprenticeship as the means to gain the necessary qualifications.’

In fact, Matthew has done not one, but two apprenticeships – the first, in electrical installation, when he left school. ‘I learned how to wire up houses, but got made redundant so I joined the army. When I came out, I decided to go back into engineering, but in an industrial setting. I had done my research and realised there would be more job security in that field.’

He hasn’t looked back. ‘I actually can’t believe how much I’ve learned during the past four years. For one day a week, I’ve been in college and the rest of the time I’m learning on site applying what I’ve learned in the classroom setting. So nothing was ever purely theoretical – practically as soon as I was taught about an engineering concept, I’d be out putting it into practice.’

Having been offered mechanical or electrical engineering as options, Matthew opted for the latter ‘because of my previous experience.’

‘It’s hugely varied work, which really builds my confidence,’ he says. ‘One day, I’ll be fixing street lights in the cark park, the next I’ll be mending the tippers or bagging machines for the potatoes. Today, I’m building a conveyer.’

The financial benefits of an apprenticeship were a huge boon to Matthew. ‘Because I’m a bit older than a school leaver, I needed enough to live on and apprenticeships are great for that,’ he explains. ‘You earn a lot more than most people think. I’ve also been impressed with the level of qualifications you can get. In my second two years, for example, I decided to do an HNC. That makes me feel much more secure looking forward because most jobs in my area of engineering require it. But unlike people who have gone down the university route, I’m not straddled with debt.’

Best of all, says Matthew, engineering apprenticeships provide tangible results. ‘I love that you get to see the fruits of your work. I’ll use my knowledge to put in the relevant wires and parts, then switch it on and it works again. That provides a real sense of achievement.’

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