20-year-old Siemens apprentice Christian Dunne admits that when he did his A Levels (geography, history and chemistry) he didn’t have his heart set on chemistry and really didn’t fancy going down the university route. Instead, he came to his Siemens apprenticeship via a more unusual journey.
“I worked at a big dairy farm for a year in the Yorkshire Dales, and helped an engineer there with farm equipment. He was a really good engineer and watching him repairing equipment like tractors and dairy machinery really sparked my interest in engineering.“
Christian’s girlfriend’s father also ran a motor vehicle workshop locally, where he saw more engineering in action and his interest in the subject grew further. He heard about apprenticeships and saw the Siemens opportunity advertised.
“I was attracted to the Siemens opportunity and to their name and reputation. There were over 60 applicants for this single apprenticeship so I was delighted when they chose me. I think my initial engineering work on the dairy farm certainly helped as I’d experienced some real engineering. I’m now a year into my apprenticeship and halfway through my BTEC Level 3; shortly to start my NVQ Level 3 in Engineering.“
The long commute
Christian initially found it ‘weird‘ going back to college full-time for six months, but is now on day-release at Leeds City College. As proof of his dedication, he has been commuting to Leeds from his parents‘ home in Grassington, a journey of some 40 miles. However, he and his girlfriend are planning to move into a property in Cowling near Keighley soon which will halve his journey.
“In three years from now I’ll have done the HNC and then I can either study a degree at night school or go straight onto the shop floor. I’ve not discounted either option at the moment and it’s great that I’ve not incurred the massive student debts that many graduates start out with. I’ve worked since I was about 14 and I like to be self-sufficient.“
Keeping it in the family
Christian’s younger brother Nicholas is also hoping to start an apprenticeship with Siemens this autumn; Nicholas is 16 and has gone straight for the apprenticeship route from school.
Christian summed up: “I like the idea of progressing at Siemens; it’s a career rather than just a job if you get on with your work and there are lots of opportunities to get skills and training in various fields. There’s a programme of rotation at Siemens in Leeds, so you have the opportunity to work on heavy fitting, Motox geared units, some rail service work and even a spell on the office side. If you’re keen to work they’ll look after you.“