1. Please give an overview of your role and what this involves on a day-to-day basis:
My role as an ICA and Electrical Apprentice is to assist in maintenance activities on Sewage Treatment Works across the South West area. This involves both electrical and instrumentation tasks and involves interactions with the site operators and management. I am responsible for my NVQ and HNC work and time management in these and work under supervision from my mentor/s to undertake technical tasks onsite as part of my training.
2. Have you learnt any new skills or developed existing skills?
I have learnt a great deal of ne skills across the duration of my apprenticeship. These include my qualifications, PEO in Engineering Maintenance, BTEC L3, HNC and NVQ L3. Through these qualifications and my on the job training I have learnt machining, testing, fault finding, maintenance, time management, programming, networking and many other skills, many of which are transferrable into other parts of my personal and professional life.
3. To what extent do you enjoy your programme?
As a female in a predominantly male working environment I found the working environment to be quite an adjustment from previous work experience. However, overall I have enjoyed the programme, it has given me a chance to gain all sort of experience and work with varying teams, many of which I have built good working relationships and friendships with. In some ways it has exceeded many of my expectations of the apprenticeship. I have been impressed by the care taken by my managers and mentors in my training and experience.
4. How valued do you feel by Thames Water?
I feel that my value at Thames can vary from manager to manager, however in general my opinion and input is valued, especially in the 4th year of my apprenticeship and across the duration of my apprenticeship my involvement in projects and tasks has increased considerably. My managers have very high expectations of me on completion of the apprenticeship which I feel shows that the do value me as part of the Team.
5. How well organised/structured is your programme?
I feel that my apprenticeship with Thames Water lacked some organisation and structure, mainly due to the in consistency of coordination. During my 4 year apprenticeship I have had 4/5 Apprenticeship Coordinators and 6 Field Performance Managers, I also work under 4 different field performance managers as part of my day to day role. I have often been left confused my mixed messages from different managers and coordinators and have had differing levels of support and consideration of study from these different authorities. Further to this there has been discrepancies in the representation of the apprenticeship and qualifications available. However I am hopeful that much of this will be resolved as my apprenticeship draws to a close.
6a. How much support do you receive from your training provider?
I have received a good level of support from both my college tutors at Kingston College and my training provider at Engineering Trust Training Limiter. Whilst I do not have interaction with these on a daily basis I have the means to contact them as and when I require and have had no issue in getting the support I require from them. In general they have been very supportive in my various qualifications and also in advising me in my career prospects, progression and any issues that have arisen and in general have enjoyed the experience.
6b. How much support do you receive from your employer?
I have been lucky to have a good selection of mentors and proactive and supportive managers. There has been the occasional niggle over the 4 years but that is a natural part of working with people. The support from both my onsite teams and HR ha been reasonably accessible throughout my apprenticeship and all parties have shown a supportive attitude towards me and my professional development.
7. How well does your salary/package meet your costs?
I think my salary is fair for the work I do and meets my living, travel, daily and social costs, especially considering that I am provided with a work van and expenses for college. However in my first year the pay was very low and due to this, and the level of pay I received in earlier years I still live with my father. The company were proactive though, and following complaints from my year group bench marked our pay to their companies and increased our salary accordingly. They have also made sure that we will be paided competitively on completion.
8. Are there many opportunities outside of work?
Thames Water has provided me with some opportunities outside work, predominantly in volunteering. Through work I have been involved in charity raft races in aid of Water Aid and worked the phones for Comic Relief at one of our offices. The company also has a benefit scheme which provides some discounts of extracurricular activities such as gyms, travel and days out.
9. Would you recommend Thames Water to a friend?
I think that there are a lot of opportunities in Thames Water. No matter your interests there are plenty of roles to suit everyone.
10. What tips or advice would you give to others applying to Thames Water?
I think it is important to be fully aware of the requirement of the role as part of the application process as well as in Interviews and assessment days. Don't be afraid to be yourself and acknowledge that you don't know everything you will need for the job, especially the apprenticeship, the whole point of an apprenticeship is to learn and develop skills! Be yourself and think outside the box, what can you do to make yourself stand out from the crowd? Don't be afraid to ask question, especially as part of the onboarding process and in terms of your experience and opportunities.
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