1. Please give an overview of your role and what this involves on a day-to-day basis:
As an Apprentice Signalling Design Engineer my main job role is to train to become a Signalling Design Engineer who can maintain technical standards in all aspects of signaling design work, which is in direct support of delivery our train control projects. This includes activities associated with train-borne and track-side equipment, signaling control and interlocking/line-side signalling.
2. Have you learnt any new skills or developed existing skills?
I've learnt a wide range of new skills from attending many training course with the company. I've also been on day release to a local college to complete a BTEC Level 3 and a HNC in Electrical and Electronic Engineering. I am planning to continue this to degree level which the company will fund. Upon finishing my apprenticeship I held an IRSE license as a Signalling Designer and I was a certified Mod 3C/5 Tester.
3. To what extent do you enjoy your programme?
I've really enjoyed my time as an apprentice as I enjoy learning something new (and there is always something new to learn!). I work with a fantastic team within a great office and there is a good social side to it as well.
4. How valued do you feel by Siemens?
I feel valued as an apprentice working for Siemens Rail Automation as on the whole you can see that they are looking to nurture the talent and that they value our contribution. On a personal level I feel very valued as I was nominated and won the Rail Automation Apprentice of the Year 2015.
5. How well organised/structured is your programme?
I think the training program is well structured although when I started my group was the first apprentices through the doors in a few years, so we did feel like the 'test run'. But we did receive an overall structure of what we needed to do and what courses we needed to achieve within our 3 years. Locally I was provided a mentor to help with questions about work or processes. While on day-release I was allowed to take study leave to help when it came to exams or assignment deadlines which really helped.
6a. How much support do you receive from your training provider?
My training provider held review meetings with us every couple of months to discuss our progress. They would determine what we had achieve to date, what was left to complete and how we should go about it, and also to determine if we needed any help in any areas. They were also on hand if we encountered any problems at work.
6b. How much support do you receive from your employer?
I felt I received a lot of support from both the Training team based in Chippenham and from my own Design Office in York. The Training team kept us in the loop as to the progress of the Apprenticeship and sent us on a lot of training courses which help to boost our technical knowledge when back in the office. My local team helped me expand my knowledge base and gradually gave me more work to look after on my own. I never felt out of my depth as there were always plenty of colleagues who would offer support if needed.
7. How well does your salary/package meet your costs?
Having a family to support it was never going to be easy on an apprentice's wages but I felt the starting salary was good on the whole. There were also a lot of opportunities to 'top up' my salary with overtime as and when I wanted to work it. The company covers all costs when working away from home and they give a generous allowance for food and drink on an evening.
8. Are there many opportunities outside of work?
There are a lot of opportunities for activities outside work, be in on voluntary basis helping out a local schools or roadshows, or on the more social side on project nights out. The official company events and the unofficial locally organized events are always good fun and a good chance to meet up with people in the office you might not talk to as part of your job.
9a. Would you recommend Siemens to a friend? *
9b. Why? *
Fantastic Apprenticeship course whereby I have come in from 'scratch' with next to no knowledge of the railway industry and within 3 years I am a fully qualified Signalling Design Engineer, licenced with secondary testing skills. I now have a very competitive salary and benefit package now I've completed my apprenticeship, and I feel I am set up for a rewarding career for life. Even as an older apprentice (started at the age of 27!), I feel lucky to have found this career path!
10. What tips or advice would you give to others applying to Siemens? *
For my particular apprenticeship as an Apprentice Signalling Design Engineer, I would recommend doing your own research before the interview on basic railway and electrical principles. Not in any great detail as you will be taught from scratch anyway, but I think it shows a willingness to learn which looks favorably to the interviewers. Also researching the company as a whole shows you've prepared for the interview. Apart from that just be yourself!
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