Case Study: From Apprentice to Fully Qualified Welder Fabricator
February 7, 2024
National Apprenticeship Week aims to raise awareness of the benefits, values and opportunities that apprenticeships can offer. To celebrate National Apprenticeship Week 2024, we interviewed a former apprentice on his journey to become a fully qualified Welder Fabricator at Responsive Engineering.
Which apprenticeship programme did you join at Responsive Engineering?
I joined the Responsive Engineering team as an apprentice Welder Fabricator in the summer of 2019. I was interested in this programme as my cousin worked at Armstrong Works and highly rated the quality of training that was provided during the programmes.
Which route did you follow to apply for the apprenticeship role at Responsive Engineering?
When I left school, I was undecided on what I wanted to do; I originally started a totally different course in the sports sector but soon realised I wanted to become an engineer in the welding field. I applied through Tyne North Training which was quite a rigorous process. There was an initial mathematics and English test, followed by two interviews, one by Tyne North Training and the other by Responsive Engineering. During my interviews, I brought along my engineering portfolio which included a speaker I produced whilst at school. Once I was successful in the process, I attended college in the September for nine months before joining Responsive Engineering full time, with a day set aside to attend college for further theory-based training.
At the end of my apprenticeship programme, my skills and projects were reviewed before being offered a full-time role as a Welder Fabricator. One point to raise, which is comforting to know, is that if an apprentice is not fully ready to qualify at the end of the programme, Responsive Engineering offer development programmes to help the apprentice to become production ready.
Myself and the other four apprentices all qualified and obtained full-time employment in June 2023 at Responsive Engineering.
Which skills did you learn during your Welder Fabricator apprenticeship programme?
The obvious skill I learnt during my time as an apprentice was welding. From learning multi-coding to the skills needed to weld on a comprehensive range of materials.
Within my team, I also worked alongside platers so it was crucial that I was a good communicator and team player so we could all get the job completed. My time management skills have improved massively. As I’ve been involved in large projects, it’s been crucial for me to hit the deadlines so the rest of the supply chain can receive the materials to continue and complete the project.
During my time as an apprentice, I have received regular safety training. Safety training is provided to all employees to meet the safe working practice standards at Responsive Engineering.
Since qualifying, have you further developed your skills?
Since qualifying in June 2023, I have continued my learning through a range of courses offered to me, including compliance training, refresher coding courses, manual handling, and health and safety courses alongside mandatory training. I have received further training on overhead cranes, grinders and abrasive wheels which has been really useful too.
Since qualifying I have been involved in large scale projects which have given me the ability to work well under pressure, and at times, to tight deadlines. As they are quite complex projects which require a deeper understanding, I have attended further training to gain new qualifications.
In 2023, Responsive Engineering introduced the Weld Academy to support apprentices and all colleagues within the business with knowledge from industry experts. Although the academy launched after I qualified, I have seen how the experts take the time and effort to guide our current apprentices so they know what to expect when they qualify.
Describe your experience as an apprentice at Responsive Engineering.
During my apprenticeship programme, the speed of my learning was affected by COVID-19 rules, which were enforced nationally. It was difficult to learn whilst keeping 2 metres apart from the team leaders wearing full PPE. Once the rules were lifted, I was able to deepen my knowledge on the production side of welding.
Responsive Engineering supports you to succeed and wants to ensure you’re in the most suitable role when you qualify. At the end of my apprenticeship, I was offered different areas of the business that I’d like to focus on in my career based on my apprenticeship experiences.
To further support your success, the company actively trains you on welding codes to help you progress quickly. I really liked how the apprenticeship programme was very hands-on, and I was working on real projects. I feel this helped build my welding confidence very quickly, as the work I was doing was part of a final product for our clients.
What do you enjoy the most about Responsive Engineering?
I really enjoy the team structure here at Responsive Engineering. All of the team leaders are very approachable and supportive of your work. I’ve built long-lasting friendships with my team, some of whom I play football with on a weekend too.
Responsive Engineering has invested in people, creating a number of job opportunities which have led to closer communication between departments and business levels. I can now confidently approach people from all across the business and learn from their knowledge.
The benefits package and the work-life balance is great here too.
What are your aspirations for the future?
In the future, I would love to be a team leader. At the moment, I shadow the current apprentices on projects to ensure they fully understand the task at hand. There are various opportunities to progress which I am currently working towards, with the support of the Learning and Development Manager at Responsive Engineering.
Finally, would you recommend Responsive Engineering?
I would definitely recommend Responsive Engineering, I’ve already told my younger brother that when he leaves school, he needs an apprenticeship here! You couldn’t find a better place to work in the North East for your apprenticeship. You’re always learning on the job with top quality facilities, hands-on experience and the support from all levels of the business.