1. Please give an overview of your role and what this involves on a day-to-day basis:
I am an Apprentice Signalling Designer in the Rail Automation sector of Siemens, the program consists of one academic year at college studying a BTEC Level 3 in Electrical and Electronic Engineering which continues on day release in year 2 of the apprenticeship. On the other 4 days of a working week you are learning on the job in the office, carrying out design work. I am working on the Thames-link Programme at the moment. Siemens fully support voluntary overtime on weekends to go on site withe the Testing or Installation teams. In the third year, Siemens support you to move onto a HNC in Electrical and El electronic Engineering which is completely funded by the company. You are sent on many training courses around the country with food and accommodation paid for.
2. Have you learnt any new skills or developed existing skills?
I am coming to the end of my BTEC Level 3 in Electrical and Electronic Engineering where I am predicted to achieve a Distinction overall and will be moving onto a HNC course this coming September. I have completed numerous training courses, such as Emergency First Aid and some much more technical training courses such as CAD/Cab-i-Net, Basic Signalling Technology and Mod5 which teaches you to assist in the testing of railway signalling. I also have more courses booked in the form of Intermediate Signalling Technology and Relay Route Interlocking.
3. To what extent do you enjoy your programme?
I thoroughly enjoy my programme. Although it is known to the design team that my ambitions one day lie outside of the design office and outside with the installation team, I am fully supported with this and I am given the opportunity to work with installation voluntarily on weekends. I do still enjoy the design aspect and I believe it will be a very good experience to have should I move to Installation in the future.
4. How valued do you feel by Siemens?
You are made to feel very valued in this job, you are treated the same as any other member of the team and you are given plenty of work to complete and learn from, if you ever require help, there are always people around to support you and pass on their knowledge. Siemens definitely do value younger people and do invest heavily in their future by sending you on many training courses etc.
5. How well organised/structured is your programme?
The day I arrived, I received a thorough induction on safety and I was introduced to the team. Although for the first couple of weeks they didn't seem ready for us and previous years were not structured particularly well and often didn't have much to do, after a few changes and a handbook was created outlining the targets for each year of the apprenticeship, thing have become much better and work has picked up, apprentices are now given lots of work and a mentor to help them complete it. The training schedule was very well set up and it means everyone gets the same training at the same points of their apprenticeships. If people take an interest in any further training then they are supported in carrying this out.
6a. How much support do you receive from your training provider?
I felt completely supported through-out the entire experience, but not to the point of feeling constricted, or suffocated. Anytime I had any problems, the supervisors were there to help, no matter of how busy they were. They seemed very enthusiastic about teaching and training me, which I had not expected. I felt like I was given sufficient responsibility, without feeling overwhelmed or like I could not ask for help.
6b. How much support do you receive from your employer?
Since almost all of the training was carried out on-the-job, my supervisors were directly responsible for my training, and task delegation. This greatly helped in me feeling like part of the team and completely supported, whilst having sufficient responsibilities and work to do. It also meant that I always had access to support, whenever I required help or guidance.
7. How well does your salary/package meet your costs?
The salary is extremely good for an apprenticeship although they have lowered the wages! I'm not entirely sure why. I do think however, more support should be given for the travel costs, over a third of my wages before tax go on my annual season rail ticket. Although a loan scheme does exist so you pay the company back monthly, you still end up taking home less than half what you earned after tax and travel. I would like to see some sort of agreement to assist towards train travel to be introduced.
8. Are there many opportunities outside of work?
Due to my age, and the length of the placement, I was not made aware of any external social events, or similar. When I wasn't working, I would be at home, doing my normal after-school activities, or similar. This placement constituted one of the voluntary and outreach initiatives that they take part in/ arrange.
9a. Would you recommend Siemens to a friend? *
9b. Why? *
I think the training is very good, every apprentice is valued and highly invested in, voluntary overtime for experience is supported and it can lead to a very good high paying job. It is a very inclusive environment, which provides excellent training and opportunities to engage in actual real work that contributes to ongoing projects.
10. What tips or advice would you give to others applying to Siemens? *
Show a genuine enthusiasm for the work, and you'll sail right through. If you're not sure about something, or would rather engage in other work, just say. They are completely supportive, and will admire that you spoke up. You will carry out an online test and then an interview is the next stage. The wages have dropped so are quite low now but still better than your average apprenticeship.
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