1. Please give an overview of your role and what this involves on a day-to-day basis:
I am a manufacturing apprentice at Nestle Purina (wet cat/dog petfood), I have completed my first year and am nearly half way through my second. I spent my first year on shift (continental 4 on 4 off) learning how to operate the different machinery in the factory. I had to fill out training records and get assessed on the 4 different 'sections' in the factory; preparation, filling, retorts (cooking) and packing. So my average day would consist of shadowing my mentor on his machine, undertaking some of the jobs I felt comfortable in and signing off my training records. For my second year I have been put onto day shifts and will be spending my time with two different departments (6 months on each). Currently my average day consists of writing/updating standard operating procedures, encouraging the use of one point lessons, building presentations on various subjects and undertaking any jobs that are given to my team from the operators.
2. Have you learnt any new skills or developed existing skills?
During my first year I completed an Advanced Level Apprenticeship in Food Industry Skills and Technical Management. To do this I spent two block weeks at Holbeach technical college and was given assignments to complete based on my experience. Also during one of the weeks I gained a Health and Safety Level 2 and Food Safety Level 2 certificate. I've had a lot of internal training on subjects such as manual handling, health and safety, coaching, thermal process etc. At the start of my apprenticeship I went on a two day team building/introductory course at Rasleigh’s (Nestle's own training centre). In my second year I will be undertaking an external 3 day train the trainer and a 2 day coaching course. As well as the professional qualifications I have gained a lot more confidence in myself and have grown as a person and employee.
3. To what extent do you enjoy your programme?
To be honest the first year was quite difficult for me, it was my first job and I was thrown onto shift work and it was a shock to the system but once you got used to the pattern and the work you were doing it got a lot easier. My team mates were a big help as they were all lovely people to work with. My second year I am enjoying a lot, the work is often challenging and interesting and there's a new challenge every week. The company culture is one of, if you know where you want to go and what you have to do to get there then you can succeed, but you have to be focussed and goal driven.
4. How valued do you feel by Nestle?
I got recognition from my team leader if I or the team did well during a shift and was given a gift at Christmas for helping cover those who went of sick. If you've done a particularly good job or gone out of your way to help then you get recognition 'paw points' that add up to rewards. The whole site often gets little bonus rewards for meeting targets such as a free cupcake or new company jacket.
5. How well organised/structured is your programme?
I was given a two week induction before I started on shift then given a mentor on the volpaks (the first area I trained on). The plan for the rest of the year was flexible because it depended on how confident I was in each area as to when I moved on. I was given some support with my college work but as I spent most of my time on shift it was sometimes hard to find time. I had regular meetings with my apprenticeship coordinator if I required. The second year of my apprenticeship has been altered from the original plan to include more office based work to enhance my learning. I was the first person to do a manufacturing apprenticeship so at times it hasn't been well thought out or structured but with the new apprentices taken on it is a lot clearer.
6a. How much support do you receive from your training provider?
I had constant contact with a tutor during my Diploma, she was always very friendly and willing to give help. I could use the library at Holbeach to research information for my assignments and was given several one on one support days. I am very pleased with the support given, you can't fault it.
6b. How much support do you receive from your employer?
I receive a good amount of support from my apprenticeship coordinator who basically overseas my two years here. I have had several issues with pay and holidays but they have been resolved fairly swiftly. The emphasis is more on you getting the help you need rather than being given it.
7. How well does your salary/package meet your costs?
I live with my parents so the rent is not too high and I don't have too many extra costs so the salary is adequate. There are often bonuses. It is definitely a wage you can live on, depending on rent/extra costs there is often a fair amount to spare.
8. Are there many opportunities outside of work?
The company has a social club that provides several trip opportunities a month, cheap cinema tickets and other benefits. You have the opportunity to do some volunteer work during work hours.
9a. Would you recommend Nestle to a friend? *
9b. Why? *
It has a very good starting wage compared to other apprenticeships. The work is often hard but also very rewarding. There are a lot of opportunities to develop yourself with training courses. Can continue working at the factory if you show enough promise with an increase in wage and job opportunities. You can move to different factories within the UK or around the world. Opportunities to work on secondment overseas.
10. What tips or advice would you give to others applying to Nestle? *
The main thing to keep in mind during the application process and assessment day is that Nestle is looking for someone with drive, passion and an open mind. They will be building you up through the two years to become a lead operative and eventually a team leader so you need to be prepared for this outcome. Ask a lot of questions during the whole process, they want someone who is keen to learn and inquisitive. Finally, show you have the potential to lead because that is what the apprenticeship is all about.
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