Meet our Apprentices

» Nasar & Jessica at General Motors (Vauxhall)

Industry:  Automotive
Apprentices:  Nasar Khan, and Jessica Snook, IT Apprentices

Vauxhall apprentices and Bedford College

IT apprentices Nasar Khan and Jessica Snook are helping to drive success at Vauxhall in Luton. Both apprentices are currently completing their Advanced Level 3 Apprenticeship and will then move on to their HNC and HND higher education qualifications.

Nasar is an IT Site Services Apprentice for UK, Ireland & Nordic dealing with internal customers within the business functions such as Human Resources (HR) and Marketing. His job involves him assisting users with any hardware or software faults to ensure there is minimal disruption to the business. Nasar said: “I really enjoy troubleshooting hardware and software faults and interacting with different customers everyday trying to resolve their IT problems.”

Jessica is also an IT Apprentice and is currently with Global Finance document warehousing where she makes legal and regulatory changes to a financial application for approximately 30 countries.  Jessica explained that after getting her A Levels she decided that university wasn’t for her and that an Apprenticeship made much more sense: “I could have gone to university, but the Vauxhall Apprenticeship gave me a few years’ experience in the workplace as well as being paid to get my qualifications.” 

Jessica particularly values being able to gain experience in the different areas of IT at Vauxhall.  She said: “My first role was IT support at the Vauxhall warehouse and my second role was IT support at the Vauxhall Vivaro Production Plant. Next, I’m moving into IT Planning.  It’s really good to get an understanding of the different IT roles in the whole of the company.”   Nasar added: “When I first started my Apprenticeship I was an IT analyst providing users with remote support, I then moved into an IT engineering role. My next job will be classified under IT Contact centres.”

Nasar finished school at 16 and he feels it’s important that, as an apprentice, he’s learning on the job dealing with different customers. Nasar said: “You can learn from a book but it’s completely different to when you’re faced with real life situations at work. Learning hands on skills at Vauxhall has allowed me to develop my technical knowledge and practical skills. It has been an amazing opportunity for me and one which I greatly appreciate.”

Jessica added: “I think the Apprenticeship has given me a lot of advantages.  I now know how businesses work and I also have the qualifications to back it up.” Nasar also believes that the IT Apprenticeship has allowed him to understand how IT is needed within large companies in order for them to operate effectively.

In terms of their time spent at Bedford College, both Nasar and Jessica have been impressed with the IT facilities available to them. Nasar said: “The College has provided us with great facilities to learn from.  In terms of hardware and software they’ve got all of the equipment we need in order for us to develop our IT knowledge and skills. The tutors are also qualified in well known courses such as Cisco and CompTIA A+.” 

Jessica added: “During our first year at College we did an IT maintenance course – when we learnt to take apart a computer and then put it back together again. The College has also been able to change and tailor the units to my company’s needs.  For example, Project Management was added in as a new module because we use this a lot in the business environment.  It’s great that the College is so adaptable.” 

» Holly at Maydencroft

Industry:  Environmental
Apprentice:  Holly Grant, Agriculture Higher Apprentice

Holly Grant Apprenticeship Higher Apprentice Maydencroft

After studying an Advanced Level course in Agriculture, Holly was initially planning to go on to university. Instead, she applied for a degree-level apprenticeship vacancy at Maydencroft – a Hertfordshire-based environmental consulting and contracting company. The new Higher Apprenticeship programme in Agriculture offered by Shuttleworth College has a more scientific approach and develops higher level management skills.

Working as an Apprentice Stockperson in the farming division, Holly’s job role involves all aspects of livestock husbandry including feeding and checking over their herds of Longhorn cattle and managing a range of livestock activities. The livestock are grazed throughout Hertfordshire both on Maydencroft farmland and as part of grazing conservation for a wide variety of clients.

“My role at Maydencroft is quite different because I’ve previously worked on a dairy farm, so working with the Longhorn cattle is a new experience for me.  The role is also very varied because the company is made up of different divisions, so you are able to experience other areas such as arboriculture and ecology.”

Holly attends College one afternoon per week. “The apprenticeship means that you are constantly putting what you learn at College into practice – you are not just learning from a book.” I enjoy coming into College to see other students and we went on two trips during the first term; to Smithfield Festival and to a pig farm in Baldock.”

With a Level 4 qualification as well as plenty of work experience under her belt, Holly would eventually like to work in dairy and livestock nutrition. 

» Leah at Split Enz

Industry:  Hairdressing
Apprentice:  Leah Groom, Hairdressing Apprentice

Split Enz

Leah knew she was interested in becoming a hairdresser and her first step was attending Bedford College’s open day.  She said: “To be honest, I didn’t even know you could be an apprentice in this area, it was only when I was at the College’s open event that I found out about them.”  

Staff at Bedford College gave Leah a list of local hairdressers who were offering Apprenticeships and Leah visited each of the salons and handed in her CV.  The owner of Split Enz in Bedford, invited Leah for an interview which went well.  She then went along for two trial days. Leah said: “It was really busy when I went in for my first trial day and, (because it was my first time working in a salon), it was quite hectic, but luckily my boss asked me to come in for another trial the next day and this time I knew exactly what to expect so it went really well.”

Leah has been particularly impressed with all the support she has received on her Apprenticeship, both at work in the salon and from the College. She said: “My Assessor, Learning Advisor and Tutor have all been great – they’re so good at what they do.  At the start of the Apprenticeship I was finding it very hard to adjust to the workplace, after leaving school, but they really helped and supported me through it.  They knew I could do it and it did all turn out fine.”

Leah added: “An Apprenticeship is completely different to school.  With the type of work I do, you are on your feet all day and you have to deal with the general public.  You have to learn skills like customer service as well as hairdressing techniques. Overall, I have really enjoyed it and it’s gone really quickly. I’m so glad I’ve done it this way because, as an apprentice, I’m learning in two different environments, in the salon and at College.  There’s a lot more variety and it’s benefited me so much.”

» Rhiannon at Springfield Lower School

Industry:  Education
Apprentice: Rhiannon Riccio, Teaching Assistant Apprentice

Springfield Lower School

When Rhiannon left school she started studying a Childcare course at College but quickly realised that an Apprenticeship was much better for the way she liked to learn.  Rhiannon said: “My College tutor gave me some information about Apprenticeships and she actually helped me to find the job at Springfield Lower School.  I’m a hands on person so an Apprenticeship is much better for me as I can learn while I work.  I also find it easier to do my assignments because, instead of reading books, I can use a lot of practical examples from my job.”

There are 26 children in the class that Rhiannon supports and she particularly enjoys learning new teaching techniques.  She said: “I’m always picking up new teaching techniques from the teacher. For example, if I’m helping a child during Maths, I will ask the teacher to help me teach a different technique.”

Rhiannon feels that she has benefited a lot from her Apprenticeship and that the experience has made her much more ready for the world of work than if she had done a College course. She said: “If you’re just doing a course then afterwards you’re thrown into the world of work and it can be quite a shock.  With an Apprenticeship it’s not as intimidating because you’ve been doing the work every day and studying at the same time.”

» Harlan at Vauxhall Technical Centre

Industry: Automotive
Apprentices: Harlan Todd, Service Technician Apprentice

Vauxhall and Bedford College

For Harlan Todd becoming an apprentice in the automotive industry after leaving school was an easy decision.  “I just thought it was so much better to earn while you learn.” He said. Not only do you get great hands on experience in industry, but you also get a qualification at the end of your Apprenticeship.”

Harlan works at Vauxhall’s Technical Centre in Luton and particularly values being able to work on real customers’ cars and dealing with technical issues that the Vauxhall Dealership technicians are not able to solve. “Every day is different and no two jobs are the same, so it’s really interesting. I’ve even had the chance to be involved in changing an engine on a new Chevrolet Corvette, which is quite a unique experience!”

Harlan also enjoys his time at Bedford College, which also focuses on practical learning in the motor vehicle workshops.  He said: “The facilities are great and the tutors are good at understanding that apprentices work full-time so they don’t have the holidays that other students have.  They bear this in mind when they’re asking for assignments to be handed in.”

Overall, Harlan has enjoyed his Apprenticeship so far.  It has given him a foot in the door in an exciting industry and a chance to mature because of the responsibility he’s been given at work. He added: “If you do well, your employer sees that you’re good and wants to keep you on for a full-time job.”

» Akbar at Wates Group

Industry:  Construction
Akbar Khan, Planner Apprentice

Wates Group and Bedford College

While studying for his A-Levels, Akbar took some time off to take part in a “Get Into” programme with The Prince’s Trust and Bedford College. The group worked on a timber frame restoration project on a historical barn at Kings Hill Farm, part of the Shuttleworth College site. “We learnt carpentry and joinery skills and it inspired me to enrol on the full-time Level 3 Construction course at the College,” explains Akbar.

During the first year of the full-time course, Akbar realised he needed to get back out on site in order to apply his new found knowledge and learn the trade on a daily basis. He says, “Woking at Wates Construction as an Apprentice Planner has given me the opportunity to understand the whole construction process and develop my skills.”

“I am getting the chance to understand the whole business from working with the production team, engineers, commercial etc. which is all helping with developing my skills and making me a better Planner. Everyone at Wates Construction is welcoming and prepared to answer any question you have which is very supportive.”

Akbar comes into College for lessons once a week. “The education and training given at the College is very good, as are the facilities,” he says. “There is an excellent library which is also good for group work”.

Doing the Apprenticeship has no doubt helped with Akbar’s career plans. “I now know I want to continue working in the construction industry. I’ve enjoyed my time at College too and may come back at the end of the Apprenticeship to complete a higher education qualification – either a HNC or a Foundation Degree in construction,” he concludes.  

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