1. Please give an overview of your role and what this involves on a day-to-day basis:
I am currently a Higher Apprentice in a Powertrain placement within Cost Engineering, where our primary responsibility is ensuring financial value for piece cost of a procured component; with the vision of realising cost potential earlier in the product cycle through cost efficient engineering transformations.
My daily tasks vary frequently due to the nature of my role, however the main projects I am involved in consist of engineering cost estimates to ensure value for money on outsourced components. In order to do this, I liaise and support various functions throughout the business, including Purchasing, Parametric Estimating and Powertrain Operations. This is on top of interactions and negotiations with global suppliers such as TATA, ZF and Novelis; where gaining data, understanding manufacturing processes and determining cost influences were essential in making accurate cost estimates.
2. Have you learnt any new skills or developed existing skills?
Throughout my 30 months on the Higher Apprentice Scheme I have gained both theoretical knowledge at college, and practical experience working on various projects and training programmes within Cost Engineering, as listed below:
NVQ L3 in Performing Engineering Operations
I have gained a Level 3 NVQ in Performing Engineering Operations after completion of my first year at college.
I have also gained a Distinction in a Mechanical and Manufacturing Foundation Degree after completion of the second year.
In work; I have had the opportunity to excel in various training programmes:
Cranfield University – Principles of Cost Engineering
The online learning course was completed in work time over a period of 5 months, based on the principles of Cost Engineering within the Aerospace industry. I achieved an overall grade of 86% - Distinction after completing various assignments and a group project.
ScotWork Advanced Negotiation Training
I have completed an intense 3-day training course in the art of advanced negotiation, where we were taught the principles of negotiating and how to effectively apply them within a discussion.
CAPPe Training Course
Within my department: Cost Engineering, we use a self-built cost estimating tool defined as ‘CAPPe’. This programme is a uniformed tool, where users can estimate the optimum cost of a procured component using machine, material and economic data from the automotive industry.
I participated in an intense 4-day CAPPe training course, which initially taught me the principles of building component cost estimates and then evolved into the particulars of cost derivatives such as process cycle times, manning levels and investment costs of machines etc..
I know feel I have a proficient knowledge of the system, and was asked to run a brief demonstration of a steel pressing cost estimate to other apprentices. As I continue to build more developed cost estimates, I will extend my competence in CAPPe.
3. To what extent do you enjoy your programme?
I enjoy the Higher Apprenticeship Scheme I have enrolled on due to the vast amount of knowledge I have picked up in the short amount of time I have been in the industry. I feel both my theoretical and practical engineering competences have massively enhanced as a result of the combination between high level education and in depth work experience.
The team I am surrounded with are extremely approachable and helpful when required; however there is a sense of independence and responsibility that is rewarding when working on important projects.
This apprenticeship scheme has passed my expectations and I hope it can continue to grow and improve as the years roll out.
4. How valued do you feel by Jaguar Land Rover?
Within Jaguar Land Rover as previously explained, the sense of responsibility and independency whilst working on large projects gives me a sense of self-worth among other colleagues. These feelings are always backed up with feedback from my immediate manager, as he will organise progress meetings to praise, offer improvements, and check I am happy with current progress.
In addition, senior managers and occasionally directors have congratulated or personally thanked me for my contribution to the section; a personal touch that makes a lot of difference in terms of value and motivation.
5. How well organised/structured is your programme?
As the 2012 intake was the first year of the Higher Apprenticeship; it was expected there would be occasional hiccups in the process.
Unfortunately, the only set-back of my apprenticeship has been the organisation of Trident College, as they had difficulty in coping with the sheer volume of apprentices. However, due to various focus groups held by the Apprentice Supervisor, these issues have been voiced and will hopefully be ironed out for future Higher Apprenticeship intakes.
However, in work, our programme is expertly structured
6a. How much support do you receive from your training provider?
Due to the wealth of support available within my department (Cost Engineering), I haven't relied upon Trident College in terms of apprentice support. However, along with the other higher apprentices within my section, we arrange monthly meetings with our ITM to voice any issues we have with the organisation of Trident College and our lecture content.
6b. How much support do you receive from your employer?
As previously stated, Cost Engineering offers a wealth of experience in terms of managers, colleagues and a variety training programmes. It is extremely rare that support isn't on offer within the department, and more importantly they want to help the growth and progress of young apprentices within the office.
7. How well does your salary/package meet your costs?
Fortunately I live relatively locally to both my Training Provider (Trident College, Leamington Spa) and my place of work (Gaydon, Warwickshire); therefore both living and travel costs are kept to a minimum.
Notoriously, apprenticeships are not very well paid, however I believe Jaguar Land Rover appreciate the level of competence Higher Apprentices are able to display, and reward this through their generous pay scheme.
In September 2012 all Higher Apprentices started on a base salary of £16,000, which is set to increase to £32,000 in a 6 year period. This pay scheme is in addition to the funding of all training programmes and qualification costs, which in comparison to other UK apprenticeships of similar stature, is highly competitive.
8. Are there many opportunities outside of work?
Unfortunately I am quite busy outside of work, and therefore haven't been able to take advantage of some of the fantastic opportunities Jaguar Land Rover offer, for example there are inter-department football teams and golf societies which help both team building and keeping fit!
However, one extra-curricular programme I have participated in is the Employee Learning Scheme (ELS). This is a fantastic opportunity to participate in a unique activity you wouldn't have previously attempted, or further your skills in a known discipline, courteous of a £200 voucher to aid the cost of your chosen activity.
9. Would you recommend Jaguar Land Rover to a friend?
Jaguar Land Rover is the UK’s leading premium automotive manufacture and is continuously growing; joining the company at this time could possibly result in being a part of a global takeover of the automotive industry. Moreover, with Jaguar Land Rover rapidly investing into developing countries all over the globe, there are numerous exciting and diverse opportunities in all sectors of the business. As an employee of the company, I am first-hand experience that there are few better ‘employee focused’ company to work for, Jaguar Land Rover value, support and reward your work as an integral employee within the business.
10. What tips or advice would you give to others applying to Jaguar Land Rover?
Prior the application process, I would advise applicants to try and get work experience with JLR or a similar manufacturing company, this will help gain more practical experience, which of paramount importance in the application and interview stages.
Furthermore, showing a passion for learning and success is often the difference between being accepted and rejected; often academic competences are similar in a large field of applicants, therefore showing why you are different as an individual is very important.
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