Apprentices scaling new heights

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Learning the right skills for you is about more than just getting a job, it’s about opening up a world of opportunity as Renishaw apprentice Simon Green told Gavin Thompson.

WHEN he’s climbing mountains, Simon Green feels on top of the world. The 22-year old enjoys nothing more than driving to Wales or zipping down to Somerset to scale Cheddar Gorge.

“Cheddar Gorge is fantastic,” says Simon. “It’s absolutely beautiful. And there’s a huge range of difficulty so you can take friends who aren’t as experienced along too. “I’m very partial to rock climbing. There are some very good sites around Bristol and South Wales. Now that I’ve got my car it’s so much easier to get there.” Bristol has some good indoor climbing centres, but it was buying a car that has given Simon the freedom to pursue his passion in the great outdoors. And he’s been able to do that thanks to his apprenticeship as a software engineer at Renishaw, which has given Simon the chance to study for a degree and learn high level, sought-after skills while earning at the same time.

Unlike some others on the programme Simon, from Westbury-on-Trym, didn’t join Renishaw straight from school. He studied A-levels at Clifton College and then went to university. “There was quite a lot of pressure to go to university,” he said. “There wasn’t really any other choice or that’s how it felt. “So after my A-levels I went to Southampton University to study geophysical science which didn’t work out for me.  It wasn’t the right choice, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do. “So I dropped out and tried to find a job. My parents were very worried. I was lost and didn’t really know what I wanted.”

Simon looked for work but it was hard to find. Then a friend mentioned Renishaw, an engineering company based in Wotton-under-Edge, to the north of Bristol. “I started just on a temporary contract doing data input,” says Simon.“They said ‘use your time here as a trial and see whether you would be a fit for the apprenticeship’. They must have seen something in me because they took me on.” He’s now in his second year of the apprenticeship, which lasts for five years. Simon is spending six-month placements in different departments, learning various aspects of the business. As the company has sites around the world, he could even spend some time abroad. He doesn’t know where he wants to finish up yet, but there’s plenty of time to figure that out.

His mum and dad, a doctor and a potter, respectively, are just pleased he’s found a path that works for him. “They were very happy when I started the apprenticeship,” says Simon. And while he is missing some of the social aspects of university that some of his peers from school are enjoying, the regular pay packet gives him the opportunity to enjoy his freetime, when he has some. “The workload here is high,” he says. “You have to do your degree work too. Part of the deal is that you have to get both things done. You can’t not do your work. “But learning in a job and then going to university and learning the theory behind it has been really much more engaging.“ If you are just at university you have lectures and tutorials but the level of practical learning isn’t the same. “For me, the apprenticeship has worked out far better than university.

I would recommend that if anyone is not sure about university, check out apprenticeships. Especially here, Renishaw is a really good company.”

Skills for life

Skills for Life is a campaign to encourage young people to find the right training, whether apprenticeships or higher education, to give them the opportunities to succeed. It also highlights some of the companies and organisations offering great learning opportunities. The campaign, run by the Bristol Post and our sister titles, is supported by Weston College, the University of the West of England, Taylor Wimpey and Renishaw.

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