Apprentice Design Engineer at Siemens

Start Date:
Birmingham West Midlands
Programme Type:
Apprenticeship - Advanced Level (Level 3)
£16,000 annually
Review Date:
January 2016

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1. Please give an overview of your role and what this involves on a day-to-day basis:


As a graduate of the apprentice scheme I fulfill the role of assistant engineer, currently in our Control Systems department. This role requires me to complete design packages upgrading train control systems, such as those used in signal boxes to mediate the passage of trains. This is at the direction of the lead systems engineers and principal systems engineers, completing design packages set. I am currently working on upgrade packages that will affect areas in Crewe, Manchester and Bromsgrove. I am also trained in the secondary skill of signalling tester, assisting in the testing of signalling equipment installation in North Lincolnshire, Banbury, Bicester, Derby and Birmingham.

2. Have you learnt any new skills or developed existing skills?


The entire scheme has been a journey of skills development. I entered the scheme with no prior background in engineering whatsoever. I now have a level 3 qualification in electrical engineering, am working towards a foundation degree in the same field, have completed various courses in both signalling design and signalling testing and have site safety qualifications that allow me perform auxiliary safety duties. My skills have developed exponentially as part of the apprenticeship scheme.

3. To what extent do you enjoy your programme?


This industry is by no means rock and roll. My work can sometimes be tedious and repetitive, but this is the case in 98% of jobs on the market. However the atmosphere in the section I work in is positive, the company culture is one of development and excellence and I am given the responsibility required for me to feel an essential part of the team. Despite this, I would have enjoyed being incorporated into a project team much earlier in my development and feel this would have helped my development.

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4. How valued do you feel by Siemens?


Not as much as I would like to be. I have felt more appreciated since moving to Control Systems, where I am fully incorporated into project teams and given plenty of work to do, plus feedback on the work I do complete. However, I have yet to be given a permanent role within the company despite graduating my apprenticeship scheme 5 months ago. This came as no surprise to me, having been shunted sections 9 months previously with no warning or satisfactory reason given. I was then given assurances that this would not affect my employability within the section I was being moved from, a fear of mine that ultimately came to fruition. My time on the design section was one spent flitting between projects, often isolated from the teams working on said projects.

5. How well organised/structured is your programme?


The apprentice scheme that I graduated from has changed a lot since I started. This is because when I started with the company I was part of the first wave of apprentices in a rebooted problem, and as such there were small teething problems now and then. However, since then the scheme seems to have ironed out the few issues we had into a more efficient scheme that is well structured.

6a. How much support do you receive from your training provider?


I do not feel that I have ever had cause to complain that a course I have been on, whether that be college or work based training courses, have been guilty of not sufficiently supporting me. The central training team for my course have also provided support across my time on the scheme and have always looked to help develop me.

6b. How much support do you receive from your employer?


Unfortunately the support from around me at the company has been somewhat hit and miss. I find this is down to the individuals involved rather than at the company as a rule though. For example, the mentor I was linked to in the early stages of my apprenticeship supported me well, as has my line manager and the senior team around me in my current role on control systems. However, other senior managers have supported me less in my endeavors.

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7. How well does your salary/package meet your costs?


The money is good for an apprenticeship. My salary also climbed by £1000 per year completed, something I think has been key in helping me feel that my development has been appreciated and something that reflects accurately my growing worth to the company. I am currently, with a large does of overtime on top, paying for a wedding, so the ability of the course to cover costs is clearly there.

8. Are there many opportunities outside of work?


Not that I am really aware of. Any time off work for such things has been met with stern opposition within the design section management and as such has led to a reluctance to engage in any company events or industry events that may impact the working week.

9. Would you recommend Siemens to a friend?


9b. Why?

The scheme I took part in has offered a great education to me and opened up a trade and career path for me to follow. I know plenty of capable lads stuck in dead end jobs just looking for the sort of opportunity I have been given with Siemens.

10. What tips or advice would you give to others applying to Siemens?

Research the industry, not the company. Always look to take the initiative and seek out as much exposure to design work as possible. Go testing, seeing the equipment out on the ground will enforce your understanding of how it works.

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