What do you do and how long have you been doing it?
My name is Verity Jackson, I am 19 years old and I work for the Dstl as a mechanical engineering apprentice. I have been on the scheme for two and a half years, and will graduate with a Level 3 NVQ this September (2018).

Why did you choose an apprenticeship and what have you learned so far?
I started the course when I was 16, straight from school. I decided to do an apprenticeship because I really didn’t want to spend another two years in college/school; I just wanted to start earning a living so I could gain my independence. I knew if I ended up going to college full time I would drop out at the earliest chance so I could work full time, but I then obviously wouldn’t have any qualifications. So an apprenticeship seemed like the perfect choice for me, I could be earning money and getting my qualifications.

To take up the job at Dstl, I had to move out of my parents’ house, which I said I would do at 16 when I was four years old so couldn’t go back on my word! This is something I wouldn’t have been able to do if I had stayed in ‘traditional’ education. This meant I had to learn a lot of life skills. I suddenly had to pay rent, pay bills, and go food shopping. I had a lot more responsibility than all of my friends that I was at school with, but I liked that pressure.

When I started on the course, I had no engineering experience, apart from the work I had done on engines and cars at home with my dad. I felt a bit behind when I started because of this as most of the guys I started with had either done engineering at school/college, resistant materials or just had more of a physics/maths background than I did. This, and the fact I was the only girl in my class, really spurred me on to work hard to show that I was capable in a man’s world.

Over the first 18 months I learnt a huge amount with the training providers. It was during this time that we were learning how to machine, how to use CAD software, as well as the principles of engineering. I really enjoyed the hands on stuff we were doing in the workshop, using the mills and lathes, and then the fabrication I did when we went back to the Dstl workshop. This was another reason I decided to do an apprenticeship, I wanted to be doing something useful, I wanted to get my hands dirty and get involved.

Would you encourage other people to consider an apprenticeship?
I would highly encourage people to consider doing an apprenticeship as I think they are a fantastic alternative to college and university. You still get your qualifications, but you’re also getting industry experience which is highly valued. You also don’t get the debt that comes with university.

What do you plan to do following your apprenticeship?
When I graduate in September, I will hopefully stay working at Dstl. I also hope to try and further my education.