John Cooknell’s journey from studying for his GCSEs to helping maintain a fleet of 84 trains has been as rapid as it has been rewarding, and it’s all thanks to his apprenticeship with Siemens through Northampton College.
He said: “I found the Siemens vacancy on an Apprenticeship Website. I knew I wanted to pursue my passion and enthusiasm for Maths and science and engineering seemed like the perfect opportunity to do that.
“I’m an apprentice technician, which means that I am responsible for maintaining a fleet of 84 trains alongside my colleagues, providing good reliability and fixing any faults that are present. I really like the fact that I get to see behind the scenes and gain experience in part of the rail industry that most people don’t get to see.
“I want to progress to a higher level in the rail industry and gain as much experience as possible so that I can progress through the company to a more supervisory role. There will always be opportunities for work in this industry and the skills I have learnt from this apprenticeship will be transferable to many different industries if I decide to change my role in the future.
“I have received a very high quality of training from Northampton College and I can’t think of anything better than being paid to get hands on experience in an industry that gets behind you and pushes you to be the best you can be.”
The boot and show trade is the heart and ‘sole’ of Northampton life and Courtney Wells’ apprenticeship in Performing Manufacturing Operations has seen her develop a love for the town’s proud shoemaking heritage.
She said: “I chose an apprenticeship because it’s a pathway that will lead to a career, not just a job.
“I have learnt so much in my time here, not just about the work but also about the history of Northampton and why learning traditional trades is so important. An apprenticeship is the best way to unlock hidden skills and bring yourself out of your shell.
“I get to work in all of the departments throughout the factory, which means that I learn all of the best bits about the job and get to meet lots of nice people along the way.
“I am so grateful to everyone who has helped me along the way. Northampton College has provided me with outstanding support during my apprenticeship and I hope to stay on at Church’s and become a room manager one day.”
Ambitious Alexandra Constantinou is aiming for big things having embarked on an apprenticeship with engineering giant Siemens.
Setting her sights on a role at the top of the industry, she said: “I would love to be the CEO of a company like Siemens one day. I want to be the best in my field and inspire other female engineers to do the same.”
Her engineering apprenticeship has seen Alexandra take on electrical jobs, mechanical jobs, fault finding, repair work and preventative maintenance.
She said: “I chose to do an Apprenticeship because I wanted to get some experience in the industry before spending so much money on University fees. Every day at work is different. I really enjoy all aspects of my role and I feel that I am constantly learning while earning a wage at the same time.
“It has inspired me to learn more about the design side of engineering and what makes the trains work more effectively, for instance how the shape of the train can help increase its speed. I like to discover how things work and how to fix them.
“I have recommended an Apprenticeship with Northampton College to my friends because the tutors have been very helpful and supportive. They offer you help at the most difficult stages and always encourage you rather than making you feel bad if you can’t do something.”
Engineering apprentice Ben Knowles is enjoying getting ‘hand-on’ in his role at Thorn electrical – adding to his skills and learning more about the world of work.
Ben followed his brother into the apprenticeship route having seen the confidence it gave him and is now reaping similar rewards himself.
He said: “I always knew I was better at working with my hands and being up and about than sitting in a classroom so this apprenticeship is perfect for me. My boss is also very flexible as he understands my need to further myself at College alongside my apprenticeship.’
“I attend College for one day a week and this compliments the course well. I find that the practical elements of my apprenticeship come to me more easily and this in turn helps me to understand the theory behind what I do. I definitely value what they teach me at College more because I have already seen how it will be useful in my working life.
“I feel more responsible and independent in what I do, especially now that I have advanced enough to complete certain jobs on my own. I believe that when you are trusted to do a good job and use your own initiative you can get a lot more out of it. I am motivated and take pride in my work which means that not only do I enjoy it but Northampton College has helped me to develop my skills in this trade and I now have a solid foundation on which to build the rest of my life.”
A career in accountancy and finance awaits for Thomas Harbottle, who is off to study at London’s City University having secured exceptional A Level grades at Northampton College.
The 18-year-old from Milton Keynes achieved an A* in Maths, an A in Accounting and a C in Business having moved to the College from a boarding school in Somerset.
The change in environment brought out the best in him and allowed him to develop a clear career path, helping to secure a number of work placements with accountancy firms and give him experience of life in business.
He said: “The grades are exactly what I was hoping for, I’m delighted. I really enjoyed my time at Northampton College and the teachers were excellent.
“I don’t always get things first time but with my maths teacher I really did, we were very much in tune and every time they said something I just got it. I’m very grateful for all the help and support I have received.”