1. Please give an overview of your role and what this involves on a day-to-day basis:
My role is in Powertrain area of Jaguar Land Rover in the Performance, Efficiency and Driveability department. This is the attribute team responsible for all of the named attributes down to the raw metrics of for example headline 0-60mph times as well as legislative cycle targets and Fuel Economy (mpg) amongst many others. As part of this role I have spent a good deal of time also in other departments including Tranmission Calibration and Real-world Driving Emissions in the Diesel team. In my home department my responsibilities include CAE analysis of performance and fuel economy runs and comparing this and improving correlation with vehicle test to MATLAB and Simulink based CAE simulation. Also falling under my remit is the role of improving processes and executing data gathering excercises specifically for correlation however this facet of my role has not been realised a great deal yet.
2. Have you learnt any new skills or developed existing skills?
I have learnt many new skills in my time at JLR. These include driving skills internally above and beyond that of public advanced driving courses. I have gained a great deal of IT expertise particularly using MATLAB, ETAS data logging based products, as well as improving upon my existing skills with MS Office. In addition I have qualified as a company fire marshal internally and also completed my full 3-day first aid course for use within the company but also crucially an externally lead course and therefore applicable to outside of work.
3. To what extent do you enjoy your programme?
There have been a great deal of issues with the management of my programme, more from the apprenticeship and educationary side of things which has greatly hindered my enjoyment of the programmeas a whole. There have been points I have been extremely unahppy with this and almost tempted to leave the company and apprenticeship altogether despite the reasons to stay. Inside of my work and team though, I have healthy and productive inter-personal and working relationships with many of my colleagues and believe I have a generally positive impact on any task and people I work with. Even so sometimes due to company culture, even my direct work has failed to meet my expectations. The company culture I believe is poor and despite efforts to change this, malpractice in engineering terms such as poor and mismatched processes and lack of cross-team communication is still rife company wide and particularly within product development.
4. How valued do you feel by Jaguar Land Rover?
I feel valued by my line manager and supervisor and the teams I have worked with. Despite hindrances on the apprenticeship actually sometimes causing friction for me in work. In the apprenticeship in general there seems to be a lack of recognition except for some individuals who somehow have their status raised above the parapet so to speak while others achievements go largely unnoticed and unrecognised. In a number of projects I have been chosen to and subsequently undertaken key and minor leadership roles and this has made me feel valued. However on other occasions I feel I have been given monotonous work that has little value to me for learning but just helps turn the rusty cogs that keep JLR trickling along. I don't feel that outside of teams and departments we are valued by the company as a whole. This is evident particularly within powertrain with a high turnover of heads, really makes you recognise that you could leave and be replaced immediately.
5. How well organised/structured is your programme?
The programme I am on, while I admit partly due to our start date and changes occurring during my apprenticeship, has been exceptionally poorly managed and organised both from an administration and from a personal management perspective. Training has been provided in the large part well at point of instruction, however every single learning activity has seemed to have been delayed or had lack of key communication regarding learning activity outcomes, key dates and examination procedures. Support from the programme team itself is I feel largely non existent, we are however supported by Work based learning managers who act as middlemen between the apprenticeship team and us and they have in the most part been good and helpful though when issues have occurred, it has been because of poor communication made to them and in turn us from the apprenticeship programme team. Since we have moved into university, in the first year with the University being more independent from the apprenticeship team than our college in the first two years, everything seemed to run a lot more smoothly and a lot more focussed on our wellbeing as students however since it seems the apprenticeship team have had some impact and say over our university programme and this as well has gone downhill in terms of our quality of wellbeing in trying to manage university as well as work and our personal lives. At times it has felt that the programme is run as a dictatorship by the people at the top with little regard for the very people the programme is supposed to be cultivating. That said inside of work, largely because my opinion, goals and skills have been considered, that part of the apprenticeship with a few minor hiccups that are more company culture related has been very well organised and executed with multiple placements completed successfully in other departments.
6a. How much support do you receive from your training provider?
My university provider (University of Warwick) have largely been very supportive of us as individuals with less regard for the nuances and whims of the apprenticeship programme than previous training providers. Particularly with my personal situation this year they have been utterly supportive of me reaching my targets set by the apprenticeship team but also ensuring and maintaining my wellbeing in spite of everything. That said it has been noticeable the difference this year in the organisation of the programme and the amount of pressure on us being exterted by the JLR apprenticeship team on the university and consequently onto us.
6b. How much support do you receive from your employer?
Where employer is defined as my direct team and line manager as well as various placement managers, despite some miscommunications and friction in the beginning, I feel I have reached an understanding with management at this level as well as some of my colleagues such as my in work mentor that is very supportive of me and helps to maintain my wellbeing in work. In addition there is an in work apprenticeship Powertrain support team that again are in general supportive and at times a good help when needed. From the apprenticeship side of things as previously explained I do not feel they support us well and at times actually do the opposite.
7. How well does your salary/package meet your costs?
At the start of the apprenticeship, the wage was very good and definitely met my costs however I feel our wage increase to the current point is now lagging well behind what I am worth to my employer in terms of the team as I am completing tasks which would suggest I am a fully functioning engineer in my department and also in tasks on placement that take me outside my department. It is something when people have left the apprenticeship, stayed within JLR and gone straight onto full engineering roles with associated wage adding a significant amount onto their then apprenticeship wage, as well as people who have left the company and done similar. This has made it very tempting to do the same. My commute to work is long and does take quite a hit out of my wage for travel costs and again this has been a large part in my temptation to leave the business for something closer to home. That said the wage isn't bad currently and I am able to live on it to a reasonable standard of living.
8. Are there many opportunities outside of work?
The social culture of engineering at JLR in the departments I have been in isn't particularly widespread, then again working with a lack of people in my age group probably doesn't help. In terms of company activities that I have been able to take part in, there have been very few, a series of occasional talks that take place (Dec-X talks) I attended when they first started however there frequency has waned as has my interest in the talks provided. Annually our department is supposed to take part in a community voluntary initiative however as far as I am aware this hasn't taken place last year and has not been discussed or planned for this year.
9. Would you recommend Jaguar Land Rover to a friend?
I would recommend people really look at whether they can handle the stress of working as well as completing a degree in addition to all the other facets of the apprenticeship while still attempting to maintain some sort of personal life. A lot of the time I have felt squeezed from every direction and oftentimes something has to give. That said I would recommend degree apprenticeships as a route for very driven individuals who are certain of what they want to do, which unsurprisingly, isn't many people.
10. What tips or advice would you give to others applying to Jaguar Land Rover?
I would give advice to not go into it expecting too much from the apprenticeship team itself and also warn them that college in the early years is a bit of a slog. In terms of applications generally I give advice focused around the assessment day and tell people to not be afraid to come out of their shell and take control of situations as well as to be engaging and friendly in interview situations as this is what ultimately I believe gained my place on the apprenticeship. In my opinion the previous stages of the process are down to the individual, you're either going to pass or you aren't as it tests the key functionalities expected of an Engineer.
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