The latest group of graduates from Imperial’s apprenticeship schemes have celebrated completing their programmes.
Eight apprentices graduated from three apprenticeship schemes, and over 60 people including parents, grandparents and colleagues attended the graduation ceremony to mark the occasion.
As part of the technician and maintenance programmes, graduates completed one year of full-time study at Kingston College. Technician apprentices specialise in Mechanical or Electronic Engineering and complete workshop rotations across academic departments in Engineering and Physics, while maintenance apprentices gain experience within the College’s Estates Facilities teams.
The College has also introduced an Animal Research Technician Apprenticeship in Cancer Imaging, a two-year programme based in the Department of Surgery and Cancer. Daniel Barker was the first apprentice nationally to pilot this new apprenticeship standard.
Nurturing future talent
Provost Ian Walmsley presented graduates with their certificates. He said: “Our highly-skilled technicians play an essential role at the College, enabling us to provide world-class research and education and to keep our estate and facilities running. Technician apprenticeships are important for developing and ensuring a strong pipeline of future talent in our technician workforce.
“As a College, we have signed up to the Technician’s Commitment, a sector-wide initiative to promote visibility, recognition, career development and sustainability for technicians across all disciplines.”
Our graduating apprentices shared some reflections on completing their programmes.
Navinder: “When it came to applying for jobs, I knew exactly where I wanted to be”
Navinder Sidhu completed his Mechanical Engineering Technician Apprenticeship this year, and has joined the Department of Chemical Engineering as a Workshop Technician.
Navinder said: “This scheme is really important as it gives you real-world experience while studying. Being able to rotate and work in different departments allowed me to learn more skills, such as using a Computer Aided Design (CAD) software called Solidworks to create 3D models of parts and assemblies, or manually creating a program to machine a component.”
As well as acquiring new technical skills, Navinder has also learned how to use new machines, from surface and cylindrical grinders to laser cutters and water jets: “This apprenticeship gave me a unique insight into each department, so that when it came to applying for jobs, I knew exactly where I wanted to be.”
Shenice: “Imperial felt out of reach for someone like me”
"I could be on a ladder taking apart air conditioning units one day, and the next, I could be wiring ballasts in a light fitting." Shenice Lalor Engineering Technical Assistant
Shenice Lalor finished her Maintenance Engineering Technician Apprenticeship last year when she took up a role in Estates Projects as an Engineering Technical Assistant.
“I think everyone should do an apprenticeship”, says Shenice. “I didn’t want to follow the traditional path of completing my A-levels and then going to university. By doing an apprenticeship, I received hands-on experience and was able to study too, which gave me the chance to think about what I enjoyed doing.
“Imperial felt out of reach for someone like me, but I have gained a lot of skills since joining the apprenticeship scheme. My communication skills have improved because I’ve been pushed outside of my comfort zone. It sounds quite basic, but this apprenticeship has helped me understand how to talk to colleagues in a professional setting,” Shenice explains.
During her apprenticeship, Shenice spent time delivering maintenance services across Imperial’s buildings and campuses.
“If staff had an issue with air conditioning or lighting, I would visit them to understand the problem and provide a fix. I could be on a ladder taking apart air conditioning units one day, and the next, I could be wiring ballasts in a light fitting.”
Shenice says her favourite element of the apprenticeship was seeing the hidden side of the College: “I’ve been able to see a different side to Imperial, like getting the chance to explore the vast underground tunnel network, and the many plant rooms which house the machinery that keeps the College running.”
Jordan: “This apprenticeship has showed me what I enjoy doing”
Jordan Farrar completed his Mechanical Engineering Technician apprenticeship this year, and has joined the Department of Aeronautics as a Workshop Technician.
While he was at school in Yorkshire, Jordan spent his summer holidays working on a construction site with his dad and picked up basic construction skills.
“When I started this scheme, I had no engineering qualifications and didn’t live near London,” says Jordan. “I soon realised that I really enjoyed making and creating parts from nothing - I love knowing exactly how to use a machine and produce something from it. I feel that this apprenticeship has showed me what I enjoy doing.”
"I want to encourage others who are unsure about their career to consider applying for an apprenticeship." Jordan Farrar Workshop Technician
“My favourite department was Aeronautics, which provided me with a fantastic insight into wind tunnel research and 3D printing, as well as having a traditional Computer Numerical Control (CNC) workshop. I now work in the department as a Workshop Technician, and support students with 3D printing, CNC machining and occasionally help to fix different models in the wind tunnels.”
Jordan hopes to grow his skills as both a machinist and technician: “I want to encourage others who are unsure about their career to consider applying for an apprenticeship, as it can really help in making a decision about your future job role.”
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