A Q&A with apprentice Cameron Kavanagh who works at Stannah.

Tell me about your apprenticeship. What is your job role and where do you work?

I work for Stannah Stairlifts Ltd in Andover.

My title is graduate apprentice, but for the last three years I have seen myself follow in the role of mechanical design engineer.

This role is design-orientated, however we are expected to turn sketches into physical product and this can only be done with a huge amount of background knowledge in mechanics, maths, manufacturing and materials.

All of this knowledge helps us design components that are fit for purpose and efficient. The length of my apprenticeship is six years; this is the amount of time it takes to complete a part-time higher national certificate (HNC) and a part-time degree. I am currently just over three years through the process.

What is the academic aspect of your apprenticeship like?

I spend a day a week either studying for my HNC, which I have now completed or for my degree which I am currently learning for. I also now recently have started to spend and afternoon each week learning some other key skills/knowledge. This can helps with daily tasks and also extending my knowledge of the business. The qualifications I have gained are an HNC and I will inevitably complete an mechanical engineering degree BEng.

What made you decide to do an apprenticeship?

It was important to me to make sure I was exposed to the industry way of doing things from early on, there is no learning quite like on the job learning. You get to apply the practical skills and the knowledge tends to be retained much easier when actually applying it to something real life.There was also an element of worry about funding all my university fees and then the potential of having no secure job at the end. Although most apprenticeship will not guarantee you a job at the end of your scheme. They do try there best to employ you if they have spent their time and resource training you. Even if they cannot you have a set amount of years or industry experience which will give you a huge advantage over university graduates. Lastly, similar to the first point I was really keen to get out of the classroom and into the workplace. The ability to start my career young and make a living of what I enjoyed doing for a job really mattered.

What have you found the benefits of an apprenticeship to be?

There are many benefits to an apprenticeship, but I feel the benefits are even larger at Stannah. They fully fund and support me through my education. I get all the normal employee benefits. I am treated no different and encouraged to develop and progress. I have lots of friendly colleagues around me to help me. I get to train on new industry leading softwares and develop/learn skills that really benefit me in my career. I have had the chance to become professionally accredited by the IMechE. So now because of my time in industry and the awarding of my HNC I am now professionally recognised as an engineer.This means a lot to me and gives me a confidence boost to progress myself further.

What are your future career ambitions?

I would like to study further after my degree to get a masters, this will depend of many things an I may decide it is no longer the most efficient training for what I might need. I would also like to move through the ranks and become a more senior engineer being in charge of a small group and running my own projects. I would also very much like to get my ideas out into industry. Towards the end of my career I would really like to give back and I think some form of teaching would be rewarding. In my career so far I have appreciated people’s help and time in teaching and developing myself. I feel obliged to continue the cycle of knowledge.