NAW 2018: Ella Jones, Grainger & Worrall

3 mins read

Ella Jones is an apprentice project engineer at Grainger & Worrall – a leading total castings solutions provider. Ella told Manufacturing Management more about her role and responsibilities for National Apprenticeship Week 2018.

What do you do and how long have you been doing it?
I joined the Grainger and Worrall team in September 2017 as an apprentice project engineer, studying at the Marches Centre of Manufacturing and Technology (MCMT). As part of my apprenticeship, I complete three days of study a week at the MCMT and two days at Grainger and Worrall, working towards my Technical Support Engineering qualifications. My week consists of practical work on Monday and Tuesday, theory on Wednesday, and time working at Grainger and Worrall on Thursday and Friday. The apprenticeship has numerous sections that are completed and assessed to go towards my TS qualification, achieved at the end of the apprenticeship. The practical sections consist of fitting, turning, milling, CNC, electrical, and weld, whilst the theory runs parallel on Wednesdays completing health and safety, mathematics, communications, organisation and efficiency, CAD, and materials.

I am currently studying fitting, which involves using engineering drawings to file metal within specification for various tools such as set squares and dowel extractors.

Alongside this, I am completing my L3 Health and Safety qualification on Wednesdays lasting for a duration of 12 weeks, where I work towards completing three assignments to be submitted for the qualification. Having just finished the first of three assignments on Health and Safety Legislations, I am now working on accident reports and trends in the workplace.

Why did you choose an apprenticeship?
I chose to complete an apprenticeship as I never wanted to go to university. Apprenticeships offer practical, on-the-job learning and provide specific training in sectors of the company you are employed in. The training-to-work ratio helps to ensure that as the learning is completed, the lessons taught are put in place and used to stimulate my career and develop my learning. For example, the skills taught at MCMT are then used while I am at Grainger and Worrall, and vice versa. Earning money whilst gaining my qualifications seemed like a far better idea to me and provides me with the opportunity to experience a practical hands-on approach to learning, whilst also giving me the necessary skills and qualifications required for my developing career.

What have you learned since taking on an apprentice role?
Since starting my apprenticeship role, I have gained many valuable skills and detailed knowledge both at Grainger and Worrall and at the training centre that will help me to progress my career. At the training centre, I am currently learning about the basic foundations of engineering, completing tasks such as; reading engineering drawings, using simple engineering tools such as files and drills, using measuring devices such as Verniers’, among other key skills. My apprenticeship is also providing me with important life skills. As a project engineer at Grainger and Worrall, it is crucial that you have good people skills to engage with customers, but also to obtain the knowledge needed to satisfy customer needs whilst also assessing the feasibility of a project. It requires organisation, efficiency and knowledge of the subject, all of which I am constantly developing through my apprenticeship.

Some other projects I have been involved in since starting my apprenticeship that are also providing me with key skills and lessons are; directional solidification process, the making of a locomotive model for a council project, work with numerous customers and visits to various foundries and customers.

All of the experience I have gained so far is providing me with a broad but in-depth understanding and experience in the engineering sector and more specifically, the castings world.

Would you encourage other people to consider an apprenticeship?
I would encourage others to complete an apprenticeship as I feel it is the best way to begin your career, gaining skills and experience and developing the foundations needed to build your own career. Apprenticeships are beneficial to companies as they provide a training programme that essentially allows the company to train their upcoming workforce the way they want to. With the wide range of possibilities available in engineering apprenticeships, Grainger & Worrall were able to select the sections of the training course that they felt to be most beneficial to me and for my time at the company. For example, completing the CAD course to develop my knowledge on a software programme that my job role heavily depends on for providing customers with the parts they want, and managing customer expectations. With the new facilities being put in place for apprenticeships and the support they are receiving from both employers and the Government, I would encourage other people to consider an apprenticeship for their future.

What do you plan to do following your apprenticeship?
Following my apprenticeship, studying at the Marches Centre of Manufacturing and Technology, I hope to use the skills and experience to develop my career, moving towards roles such as Project Manager. I also hope to complete a degree to broaden my knowledge and hopefully specialise in a specific area such as casting technologies. I also have a keen interest in marketing and sales, so following my apprenticeship I hope to also develop my skills by looking into the sales side of casting and having more contact with the customers, as well as continuing my engineering journey.

I also feel it is important that as a young woman in engineering, I aim to inspire other young people to join my journey into engineering and challenge the skills gap currently present in the industry, driving further innovation.