“I can see a future for me at GE Caledonian” – Issac, Foundation Apprentice

Over the summer holidays our Engineering Foundation Apprentices took on the challenge of a two-week work placement with a local engineering company. We caught up with some of the pupils to find out how they are finding the Foundation Apprenticeship and if they enjoyed their work placement.

Next is Isaac Renucci, Prestwick Academy pupil, he also chose GE Caledonian for his summer work placement.


A Foundation Apprenticeship is a work-based learning course that allows school pupils to gain a college qualification while remaining at school. The work placement is one of the key elements of the course, as pupils can put into practice the skills they have learnt.

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“If I am honest, I didn’t really like the other subject options I had to fill my timetable at school. I just thought, I like the look of this course I will give it a go and apply.

Right now in the course it’s mostly physics-based theory. In first year though it was more practical, we wired a circuit board and completed a fitting unit.

I must admit before the work experience I didn’t see myself working in engineering. After the work placement, I have completely changed my mind. I really enjoyed it and could see myself working somewhere like GE Caledonian.

The company was impressive. It was quite a scary experience working with all this expensive equipment. I didn’t want to touch anything in case I broke it.

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The people at GE Caledonian were great. On my first day everyone that I met spoke to me. When they passed me they would ask how I am. It was just a really friendly and welcoming environment.

During the first week of my placement I was working on the LPT strip, on the new genx2b engine, and working on the module and parts. Then I moved onto the gearbox.

I wasn’t trained to use all the machinery but I had the hand skills to complete the same tasks as everyone else there. I was treated as an actual member of the team for those two weeks.

I can see a future for me at GE Caledonian.”

Stephen McNab, Apprentice Leader at GE Caledonian commented “The group of Foundation Apprentices on work placement with us were fantastic. Their enthusiasm and drive over the two weeks was evident from the start. The level of skill they started the placement with was tremendous. I had their mentors here telling me how impressed they have been. For us as a company, being able to interact with the Foundation Apprentices is valuable. It offers us the opportunity to spot talent and create a pipeline into our Modern Apprenticeship programme.”

For more information about our Foundation Apprenticeship Programmes click here.

“I now know I definitely want to be an Engineer” – Josh, Foundation Apprentice

Over the summer holidays our Engineering Foundation Apprentices took on the challenge of a two-week work placement with a local engineering company. We caught up with some of the pupils to find out how they are finding the Foundation Apprenticeship and if they enjoyed their work placement.

Prestwick based GE Caledonian was the company of choice for Belmont Academy pupil, Josh Rennie.


A Foundation Apprenticeship is a work-based learning course that allows school pupils to gain a college qualification while remaining at school. The work placement is one of the key elements of the course, as pupils can put into practice the skills they have learnt.

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“The course was appealing to me. I saw a video about the class and thought this is what I want to do.

It’s a good opportunity to help me get into employment when I leave school, and it’s a good qualification to have to progress onto a Modern Apprenticeship. Employers are now looking for it.

The course itself is good, it’s actually quite fun. It’s a lot of practical and not too much theory, especially when it comes to the work experience, which I like. The course content focuses on skills that I need for going into the workplace.

Currently, we are studying for a National Certificate (NC) and units of the Performing Engineering Operations (PEO) qualification. The class is very hands-on. The lecturers show us what they want us to do and then we go ahead and carry out the task.

During my summer holidays I spent two weeks at GE Caledonian, working Monday to Friday from 8am to 4pm. On the first couple of days I was working on a compressor, then I moved into the gearbox room, where I spent time working on gearbox techniques. The last few days I worked on the core unit which is part of the compressor.

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The work experience was a lot of hands-on jobs, I got to develop skills that I will use when I go into the workplace. It was a really fun placement. I would like to get a Modern Apprenticeship there when I leave school.

I now know I definitely want to be an engineer. I am not sure what area I want to go into yet. I am enjoying learning about the different aspects of engineering and feel that my work placement has helped show me that aeronautical engineering could be a good option for me.”

Stephen McNab, Apprentice Leader at GE Caledonian commented “The group of Foundation Apprentices on work placement with us were fantastic. Their enthusiasm and drive over the two weeks was evident from the start. The level of skill they started the placement with was tremendous. I had their mentors here telling me how impressed they have been. For us as a company, being able to interact with the Foundation Apprentices is valuable. It offers us the opportunity to spot talent and create a pipeline into our Modern Apprenticeship programme.”

For more information about our Foundation Apprenticeship Programmes click here.

Lab Technician for a week

Daisy Dudgeon is a 4th year pupil at Marr College in Troon.   Daisy would like a career in science and as part of the school’s work experience programme, she decided to spend the week working in the Science department at the Kilwinning Campus of Ayrshire College.

She tells us about her week at Ayrshire College and how it has helped her at the start of her career path.

“I went along to a recent Girls into STEM (Science,Technology, Engineering and Maths) event held at Ayrshire College, which inspired me to find out more about spending my work experience week at the College.  I already know what I want to do career-wise, but it definitely gave me more of an idea of how coming to college can help you get this kind of career.

Eventually, I would like to work in forensic science.  To be completely honest, the main reason I wanted to get into forensic science was a TV show, ‘Hawaii 5 – 0!’  It just caught my eye, and I thought, I want to do that with my life.”

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Engineering and Science Technician, Christine Gorrian with Daisy

We asked Daisy what she has been doing as part of the work experience in the Kilwinning Campus science labs at Ayrshire College.

“I’ve been shadowing Engineering and Science Technician, Christine Gorrian for the week.  It’s been so busy:

Monday – we prepared the experiments for the microbiology classes, which involved making and pouring the agar. 

Tuesday – we finished off preparing more experiments and I helped to set up a spreadsheet for the equipment orders that have to be ordered for the science department.

Wednesday –in the morning I got to join the Microbiology class and we did some experiments.   In the afternoon I joined the chemistry class, they were making esters, so it was good to help them outwith that.  

Thursday – as part of the work experience we have to do a workplace project.  My project was working on the stock-take with Christine, updating, refreshing and keeping track of all the stock in the Science department.  It was a big job – I didn’t realise how much goes into running the science labs, making sure that everything is ready for the lecturers and students. 

The work experience has really helped me with the science subjects that I’m studying at school at the moment.  It’s given me more of an understanding of the more difficult stuff we are doing in chemistry at the moment.  I’ve learned a lot of things that I didn’t know and got to do experiments that I would normally only get to do in a more advanced class. 

I really enjoyed being a bit of a lab technician while I was at college.  It’s a lot different to school.  I’ve learned so much in just a few days.  I felt like I’ve been learning the whole time as well as experiencing being at work. It’s been an enjoyable experience.

I’d like to go to Strathclyde University to study and eventually get a job in forensics.”

Find out more about Science courses at Ayrshire College.

 

Ode to Ayrshire

Russell Abercrombie is one of our Hospitality and Tourism students and is currently part of the Diageo Learning for Life Hospitality and Bartending programme.

There are various workshops and industry visits as part of the programme and one of the sessions involves participants completing Ayrshire Smiles.

Ayrshire Smiles was set up by the Ayrshire & Arran Tourist Board, and this inspired Russell to write the following Ode to Ayrshire.


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It’s often said that ‘familiarity breeds contempt’. Whether that be a partner whom you’ve shared a home or life with for a sustained period; a job that you lost the love for a decade previous; or even a football manager that’s stayed at your club just a season too long.

The same can be said for our appreciation of Scotland and, more specifically, Ayrshire.

Many of us have spent the greater part of our existence surrounded by, and as a result growing accustomed to, the beautiful scenery and landscapes of this county and the nation it sits within.

Dunure Castle

I understand. The daily grind allows little time to sit and admire the scenic milieu we’ve been gifted, but if we lifted our heads from our smartphones during those arduous commutes and endless traffic jams we’d be rewarded with quite frankly stunning views almost everywhere we looked. This is true no matter where in Scotland we call home, but is especially accurate in Ayrshire.

Let’s for a moment slightly twist a phrase from Ayrshire’s favourite son, Rabbie Burns – “O wad some Power the giftie gie us, to see oursels as ithers see us!” and put ourselves in the shoes of a visitor to Ayrshire as they set their eyes on Culzean Castle for the first time. Or the views on either side of the boat as the Ardrossan to Brodick ferry cuts its way through the Firth of Clyde like a hot knife through butter – the rugged, snow-capped beauty of Goatfell ahead with the stunning Ayrshire coastline slowly disappearing behind.

In a recent interview, explorer Ed Stafford spoke of meeting people in London and other large cities who’d never seen a cow in real life before. Lives so wrapped up in concrete and office blocks, in £8 double-shot flat whites and smashed avocado bagels to see the beauty that exists a mere train trip away. And that’s the allurement of Ayrshire. No matter where we lay our heads at night or spend most of our working days, we’re never more than 5 minutes from a piece of open countryside and with it the odd cow or two.

Burns Monument, Alloway

Over four million people visit Ayrshire annually and with them bring in-excess of £355 million to the local economy. When nearly 90% of these people are here to sightsee, it’s not difficult to decipher that we, the year-long residents, might be missing out on something beautiful in favour of crushing candy on our tablet computers or reading the latest copy of the Metro.

So whether it’s the world class golf courses; the stunning coastal trails; the history-laden towns of Alloway or Largs; the castles that have stood for centuries or even the modern luxury of the many 5 star hotels on offer – Ayrshire has a lot that we as residents should not only be appreciative of, but be proud to talk up and recommend to visitors and locals alike.

So don’t let familiarity breed contempt and let Ayrshire back into your heart. Your guests, county and even your wallet will thank you.

Modern Apprentice inspires Hospitality Assessor

Ayrshire College VQ Assessor for Hospitality, Angela Murray introduces us to inspirational Professional Cookery Modern Apprentice, Sanabel Dawod. 

“Before I met Sanabel I had heard a lot about her, I can honestly say I was intrigued to meet this young person as I heard so many nice things about her and interesting things about her journey.  I remember various people telling me she was a very inspirational person and a joy to be around.

The first day I met Sanabel in her primary school placement she was so appreciative of my being there and signing her up to start her SVQ in Professional Cookery. I remember thinking to myself immediately that I could understand why people were so inspired by her.  I knew from our first meeting that this qualification meant a lot to her and she was so excited to get started.

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Sanabel had been though a lot to get to this stage. After arriving from Syria as a refugee, she had been separated from her family and moved to various locations around the UK before arriving in Ayrshire. Throughout her travels around the UK, she had tried unsuccessfully to enter the education and skills system. Being on her own as a young woman, Sanabel showed great resilience and determination to succeed, even teaching herself to speak English from the internet.

After arriving in Ayrshire, Sanabel was delighted to be offered a Modern Apprenticeship in Professional Cookery with South Ayrshire Council.

Sanabel was a really keen and dedicated student. Within her placement, she had the opportunity to make some of her own Syrian dishes and present this to her colleagues and me. Her lamb curry, artichokes and al baraziq biscuits were delicious!

She progressed very quickly, often using Google Translate to understand methods of British cooking and recipes, and I visited her every week to see her cook various dishes. I have seen her settle into her job role, learn to work in a team and develop her cooking skills. Sanabel’s confidence and personality really grew throughout her course and this was reflected in her cookery.

Sanabel has just recently completed the SVQ part of her Modern Apprenticeship along with Health & Safety and an Elementary Food Hygiene Certificate. The day she completed her SVQ with me was such a happy occasion. I asked her what it meant to her and she said  “It means so much to me to be qualified in professional cookery and to be able to use this Scottish Qualification. It has been a very good experience and has given me a chance to find myself. Seeing people like and enjoy my home dishes was so great, I love showing others what I can do”.

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I can honestly say that in my career I have never assessed a student where it meant so much to them to gain a qualification. This was another level of self-achievement for this young person and was clearly very emotional and deep rooted for her. To achieve her SVQ in Professional Cookery has meant the world to Sanabel and it was my pleasure to be part of that for her.

Sanabel was a finalist in the recent Ayrshire Apprentice of the Year awards 2018. She is very proud of what she has achieved and is looking to secure permanent employment in Ayrshire and to gain permanent leave to remain status when her case is reviewed next year.

Sanabel’s Al Baraziq Biscuits

Ingredients

For the biscuits:

Biscuits for Sanabel

150g icing sugar, sifted

130ml clarified butter (or soft butter)

250g flour, sifted

100ml warm water

½ tsp active dried yeast

200g crushed pistachios

400g toasted sesame seeds

For the syrup:

250ml water

200g white sugar

3 tbsp honey

Method

1.     In a pot, add the water, sugar and honey and bring it to a simmer. Stir a few times, remove from the heat and let it cool.

2.     Preheat the oven to 170C.

3.     Using an electric mixer, cream the sugar and butter together.

4.     Mix the warm water with the yeast and let it sit for a minute.

5.     Add the flour to the butter and sugar mix, then the water and yeast mix, and combine until you obtain smooth dough, which will be quite sticky.

6.     In a bowl, mix the sesame seeds with half the cooled syrup then place the seeds on a plate. Add more syrup if desired.

7.     Prepare another plate with the crushed pistachios.

8.     Using your fingers, dip the sticky dough in the pistachio plate first, then flip the biscuit and dip it in the sesame seeds. The dough will be a little tricky but manageable. The stickier it is the better the consistency of the biscuit later, but you may add a little more flour if needed.

9.     Place the biscuits on a baking tray lined with parchment paper, and bake in the oven for about 20-25 minutes, making sure they are golden brown. Let them cool on a tray and store in tin or jar in a dry place.