What Is Life Like As A Third Year Apprentice?

Stockport Engineering Training Association (SETA) has been helping young people start their career in engineering since 1966. The training provider has over 160 apprentices either in the centre or in company. SETA offer intermediate and advanced engineering apprenticeships in the areas of electrical and mechanical maintenance, precision manufacturing, welding and fabrication and design & draft engineering.

However, what is life like as an apprentice in company? I was keen to get a real insight into what day to day life was like as an apprentice so I took a trip to Cannon Viking, the World leader in the manufacture of machinery for the production of Polyurethane foam blocks. Two third year SETA apprentices are employed by Cannon Viking, Emma Dawson and Ryan Eastham, so it was a fantastic opportunity to talk to them about their experiences as an apprentice.









I interviewed Emma and Jack to find out more!

Q. Why did you decide to undertake an Engineering Apprenticeship?


I had the option between a uni offer and a job offer. I chose the apprenticeship/job because i wanted to learn new hands-on skills within a working environment but also because the chance to earn a wage whilst learning was very persuasive. I also knew that there was scope within the apprenticeship to earn new qualifications – BTEC Level 3 in Operations and Maintanence (which I now have) and further scope to go University and get a degree.


I chose to do an engineering apprenticeship as few of my friends at the time were starting there apprenticeships and had recommended I look at doing the same. Also my dad is an engineer which has influenced me and my choices when looking at what career path I would like to take. After doing my own research on what engineering was I realised there was many oppertunities to do a large variety of interesting jobs.

What does your day to day work entail? What do you enjoy most?


I am training as a design engineer therefore I work mainly on computer aided design systems in my working day. As a company we design machines that make block of foam. I design detiails, assemblies and layouts for these machines.

I enjoy the satisfaction of seeing the design going through manufacture- i enjoy it even more if the design has worked first time!


On a day to day basis I will be working on the CAD system, designing all mechanical aspects of the machinery we make. It can go from designing fabrications and frames for the machines, to laying out a pneumatic system to be used on the machine. I enjoy seeing something I have designed being built and being used. What qualifications are you currentlty undertaking?


I am currently studying at Manchester Metropolitan University for a degree in Mechanical Engineering (with honours). This will take me a total of four years- I am currently studying my first year.


I am currently studying for me HNC in mechanical engineering and I am hoping to eventually progress to a degree

Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?


I hope to see myself with a degree! And hopefully with that I will have taken on possibly a project managment role within the company, or possible even found a new role from my degree that is of use to the company.


Hopefully I will have recently graduated from university and potentially looking towards a Masters degree or working towards a role with more responsibilties within my company.

How do you think more young people could be attracted to undertaking an engineering apprenticeship?  


Up until the end of college I still wasnt 100% sure what direction i wanted to go in! I didnt want to put my eggs into one basket so when i applied to uni i felt like i needed to also look for other options which is where the apprenticeship came in.

There needs to be a clearer pathway or understanding as to where you can go after school/college. It is extremely daunting to think that if you didnt get into university, then it could be the end of the road so to speak and you’re then staying at home and hoping for a job opportunity.

More companies need to be roped in to offer places to go after college, be it an apprenticeship, work experience or a job. There needs to be more people within colleges that can help and advise those that want it.

To be honest i actually think there’s too big a gap between school/college and work. There should be places people can go for experience because all companies ever ask for now is “experience”.


I think people can be given clear information about their options when  they leave school, school leavers are often given the impression that  the way to go is to college and then university. The impression I was  given, was that not going to university wasn’t going to forfill my potential and anything else will lead to a less successful career.  I think young people can be shown the true potential of apprenticeships and not to be taught that these are not as good as going to university.

Talking to Ryan and Emma was really insightful and highlights how much they enjoy the apprenticeship route as oppose to college. Engineering apprenticeships are a fantastic way to gain on the job and in centre training training whilst being paid. A key finding from talking to Emma and Ryan was also how much responsibilility they have been given in their company and the commitment Cannon Viking has to supporting and developing their skills through funding HNCS/degrees. The most significant discovery I gained from meeting these young people was how confident and mature they were for their age! I truly believe apprenticeships give young people important personal skills which will help them accelerate their career and get on in life.

Thank you for your time Emma and Ryan it was fantastic meeting you!

Our Open Day is on Tuesday 4th of March 2014. So if you a young person, parent or employer interested in the apprenticeship route please feel free to drop into the centre from 9am to 8pm. The day will be a great chance to meet current apprentices, see the facilities and meet members of staff.

For more information about engineering apprenticeships at SETA please do not hesitate to contact the team: 0161 480 9822