Q&A with Sunderland College apprentice Jack Sanderson, and employer Connor Solutions

18 year-old Jack Sanderson is a level 3 engineering manufacture student at Sunderland College, and is undertaking an apprenticeship with Connor Solutions. We talk to Jack, and his employer Craig Bryant, about the day-to-day responsbilities of an apprentice, and how he balances his on the job training with learning in the classroom

Jack Sanderson, apprentice electronics manufacturing engineer, Connor Solutions

Why did you choose to do an apprenticeship?

I chose an apprenticeship as I wanted to gain relevant real-world experience in my field of work, whilst also being able to complete a recognised qualification to set me up for the career of my choice. The nature of my apprenticeship means that I spend most of my time learning ‘on the job’ and the remainder is spent learning ‘off the job’ on day release at college. This is perfect as it means that I can learn both the theoretical knowledge and practical skills needed to prepare me for a successful career.

What’s the best thing about your apprenticeship?

The best part of my apprenticeship is the fact that I get to complete nationally recognised qualifications and receive invaluable experience, all whilst being paid. This means that I won’t be weighed down by any tuition fees or student debts when I finish my training. I also enjoy the sense of having an important role within my company as I work alongside experienced staff on interesting projects around the factory.

What do you do on a day-to-day basis?

My role as an apprentice electronics manufacturing engineer means that my duties can change greatly from day to day. On some days I may be assisting the test engineers with the design of a new test fixture. This involves a high level of problem solving and creativity as we are often working from scratch and need to come up with our own solution. I enjoy the satisfaction of completing projects like this as when you eventually implement it onto the production line, you immediately start to see the benefits it provides. On other days I could be with one of the quality team investigating an issue with production. This is when I can develop my analytical and logical skills which are crucial for any engineering role.

What are your plans for the future?

Once I complete my apprenticeship up to at least HNC standard I would like to either gain a job within my company as an engineer or move onto higher education to study for a degree at university. My apprenticeship gives me this flexibility and does not restrict me in terms of how I would like to progress on my chosen career path.

What would you say to anyone considering an apprenticeship?

If you are already considering an apprenticeship, then go for it! If there is an apprenticeship available in the career you want then I don’t see a reason why you wouldn’t benefit from the experience, skills and qualifications which you will undoubtedly receive on the job. It is the best career choice I have made for myself and I do not regret my decision at all.

Craig Bryant, operations director, Connor Solutions

Why did you choose to employ an apprentice?

The organisation is growing, and we decided we needed to be creating our own pool of trained and educated talent. There is a shortage of available engineers in the region in our sector so developing our own with the experienced and knowledgeable workforce we have makes perfect sense.

How does your apprentice benefit your business on a day-to-day basis?

Our strategy is to rotate our apprentices round all engineering disciplines in the business across an initial two-year programme, then specialise in an area based on a combination of business needs and skills and qualities of the Apprentice Engineer. In the short-term apprentices are supporting current engineering workload and projects, however, this a longer-term plan for us and very much about the development of our future engineers, senior engineers and hopefully even management.

Would you recommend the apprenticeship scheme to other employers?

Very much so. We were very impressed by the quality of candidates interested in apprenticeships and are planning our next two hires already.

How has Sunderland College supported you throughout the process?

Sunderland College were very accommodating, flexible and transparent regarding the process respecting and implementing what we required. The assessment process also turned out to be a very worthwhile gauge in what we were looking for.

Sunderland College

Connor Solutions