National Apprenticeship Week… A Word from our Head of HR

This week, we’ve brought you case studies from 2 of our fantastic apprentices detailing how an apprenticeship has been beneficial for them, but how beneficial are apprentices to our business? Our Head of HR Neil Hall discusses why apprentices are important to our business.

Hi, my name is Neil Hall and I’m Head of HR here at Turbo Power Systems, I’ve been here for 13 years and have seen TPS develop some fantastic apprentices in that time.

How have TPS benefited from having apprentices in the work force?

Several years ago, we made the decision on a “grow our own policy”, albeit small in scale. In my time at TPS we have taken one or two apprentices per year (similarly we have taken on as many graduates). The main reason for this is to develop employees in the ways of TPS, through monitoring and guidance we can teach our apprentices our trusted and best practises of working so that they become key employees at TPS.

Why do you think apprenticeships are important for both the business and the individual?

It is without question a joint developmental opportunity, both parties should learn and grow as a consequence of the opportunity. The company gets an engaged and “thirsty” for new skills employee and in return the employee gets an opportunity to join a growing, Global innovative Power Electronics & Electrical Machines design and manufacturing company based right here in the North East of England.

What advice would you give to school leavers who aren’t sure what their next steps are?

Talk to trusted friends, colleagues, teachers, recruiters and employers. Get feedback on what you want and how you can solve problems for organisations and businesses going forward. Chase learning opportunities and suggest what you can offer, not what the Company pays, or what the hours are. It could pay dividends having a longer-term view.

Meet… Evan Smith, Apprentice Electrical Engineer

As this week is National Apprenticeship Week, we are bringing you case studies from some of our excellent apprentices.

My name is Evan Smith, I am a 21-year-old Apprentice Electrical Engineer and I’m currently working towards my level 4 qualification at Tyne Metropolitan College. I have worked in the development lab at TPS since September 2018.

What did you do before you joined TPS?

Prior to working at TPS I had completed my A-levels at Heaton Manor High School where I was studying maths and physics. I completed the year with a B in maths and a D in physics but I never felt like school was the right thing for me and that I couldn’t achieve my full potential there.

In addition to school, I worked at several places including a local garage from the age of 14-17, a local go kart track from 17-19 and I visited a Formula-1 team for a week’s work experience. All of this work experience gave me a very broad understanding of engineering before my career had even began.

Why did you choose an apprenticeship over other options available to you?

I had the option to go to university and was offered placements at Northumbria however, I was ready to leave the classroom behind and start my career which led me to choose an engineering apprenticeship. Not only do apprenticeships allow you to learn practical skills while you work and gain invaluable experience, they also allow you to continue your education up to degree level. This was an opportunity that I felt I couldn’t refuse as I was ready to start my career and an apprenticeship offered all the benefits from going to university whilst simultaneously allowing me to gain work experience.

Why did you want to work in this sector and what led you to TPS?

Initially I wanted to be a mechanical engineer due to my love for cars, but after the recent surge of electric vehicles I realised that electric vehicles would be the future and that an electrical engineering role would be much more suitable for my interests. This coupled with the global warming crisis and the constant need for renewable energy made me want to get into electrical engineering where I feel I can make a difference. This is what led me to TPS, I was attracted to the work they are doing here on innovating for a low carbon future both in transport and for grid solutions.

What does a typical day look like for you at TPS?

Almost every day at TPS is different from the last, there is always a lot going on and multiple projects in development at the same time. This means there is great variation in the tasks I do on a daily basis which is great for my own personal development. Tasks I do on a regular basis are safety tests, calibration control and prototype PCB manufacture, but even still there is a large variation of how each of these tasks are completed.

Overall, TPS is a great place to work, they constantly allow their employees to work to the best of their ability and supply multiple opportunities for employees to get involved with while supporting their education and development.

What advice would you give to school leavers who aren’t sure what their next steps are?

My advice to school leavers who are unsure about what to do next would be to really think about whether going to university is best for them. Not going to university was the best decision I ever made as it allowed me to take this opportunity which offered me so much more. I have seen many of my friends regret not exploring all of the options that were available to them. Have a look around at local apprenticeship opportunities, there are several training companies who will help with this, including, Tyne North Training (TNT), they have been very helpful with me and my apprenticeship and continue to offer me their full support whenever I need them. They have also helped hundreds of young people to get apprenticeships due to their wide range of contacts and are constantly looking for new people to enrol.

Meet… John Scade, IT Technical Apprentice

As it’s National Apprenticeship Week in the UK we would like to introduce you to some of our excellent apprentices, starting with John.

Hi, my name is John and I am an IT Technical Apprentice at Turbo Power Systems based in Gateshead.

What did you do before you joined TPS?

Before I joined TPS I was working part time as a leisure attendant whilst also studying a level 3 course in IT with the aim of getting an apprenticeship at the end of it.

Why did you choose an apprenticeship over other options available to you?

Apprenticeships offer an excellent opportunity to gain the valuable practical experience needed to learn how IT systems work in the business environment rather than focusing solely on a theoretical perspective. Working with industry used programs outside of the classroom better prepares you for the job ahead. In addition to allowing you to take a different view on the educational parts of the apprenticeship, it is far easier to apply the theoretical knowledge provided in the classroom whilst you are working on those systems every day. The monetary aspect of an apprenticeship is also a great benefit; having a university degree paid for you by the company, whilst also earning some extra money is definitely a bonus!

Why did you want to work in this sector and what led you to TPS?

I was lucky enough to have been referred to TPS by an existing employee. When I did some research into TPS, I realised that they were an innovative company who use complex IT software on a daily basis and this really appealed to me. IT is an integral part of day-to-day life here and so there is never a dull day for our IT team!

What does a typical day look like for you at TPS?

One thing is for sure, I very rarely have 2 days the same, some days can lead to constantly moving from issue to issue and other days the IT systems will just work.

My core day-to-day activities include:

  • IT Support;
  • Observing core systems;
  • Ensuring that users are licensed correctly;
  • Preparing IT equipment for new starters and leavers;
  • Continuously improving our ERP (Epicor) system.
John providing support to another employee

What advice would you give to school leavers who aren’t sure what their next steps are?

If I could give 1 piece of advice it would be to try your best to get some work experience in the area that you are interested in working in, in both in large and small companies. Work experience gives you the opportunity to make sure that you will enjoy the career path you are looking at, choosing a career is not an easy decision, don’t forget this potentially what you will do for years to come. Apprenticeships are great for this.