“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.

 

What’s next for former School-College Student Euan Lobban?

As the 2017/18 school year has come to an end, many Ayrshire secondary pupils will have completed their school-college course at Ayrshire College and be thinking about what’s next.

Maybe it’s a full-time course at College?

We caught up with Euan Lobban, an NC Building Services student at the Ayr Campus. Euan is a great example of a student who has progressed from a School-College course, into several full-time courses at College. He perfectly demonstrates that there is #NoWrongPath when it comes to education, as he prepares to move on to a HNC in August 2018.


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Euan is a former Kyle Academy pupil and has been a full-time student at Ayrshire College for two years now. With support from his family and College staff he has grown in confidence and self-belief, and is ready to explore what he can do next.

What School-College course did you study?

“I studied Introduction to Construction Crafts. When I was at school I enjoyed graphics and woodwork. I felt I was more of a practical learner, so thought the course would suit me. I felt school was more theory focused and I wanted to do a more hands-on subject.”

Did you enjoy the course?

“I really enjoyed the course. It was good for a variety of different reasons. I was able to learn a whole range of new skills. The course was also split into 3 different trades; painting and decorating, joinery, and bricklaying, which meant there was lots of variety and different types of assessments. I also got to meet new people from different schools, so I had the opportunity to make new friends.”

Did this course influence your decision to come to Ayrshire College full-time?

“Yes it did. My school asked me if I was enjoying the college environment and if I wanted help to apply for a full-time course. My guidance teacher sat down with me and showed me some course options. I decided to apply for NPA Plumbing (SCQF Level 5) at the Ayr Campus. My uncle was a plumber and my parents felt this course would really suit me, I started it in 2016.”

What are you doing now?

“After I completed the NPA in Plumbing, I was offered a place to continue at college and choose to progress to NC Building Services. There isn’t a next level up from NPA Plumbing so moving to NC Building Services meant I could go on and do a HNC, which is what I am planning to start in August 2018.”

Have you enjoyed the NC Building Services course?

“I really enjoyed it. The course is quite different from what I have done before. It is very theory-based, which I am not really used to. I also have felt in the past that theory is something I struggled with. Doing this course has actually made me feel more independent and confident about it.

I am planning to do my HNC in Construction Management starting in August, I went for my interview in February and have since been offered an unconditional.”

Did you aspire to do a HNC at College when you were at school?

“When I was at school doing my national 4s I assumed I would end up with a part-time job at a supermarket or something afterwards. It was the support of my family, student services, and the lecturers here that have pushed me to get to where I am now. I didn’t really think I would even get much further than NPA Plumbing. It’s support from others that has made me see what I can achieve.”

What kind of support did you get from Student Services at Ayrshire College?

“At the start, when I was studying the Introduction to Construction Crafts course, they helped me when I needed support in class. Sometimes when the lecturer was discussing a topic in class, I would struggle to understand it immediately. To help with this, student services worked with the lecturer and Inclusive Learning to help me with my notes. I am dyslexic, so this really helped when I was studying. Inclusive Learning also got me some equipment to help me read handouts and course textbooks.

One of my lecturers, Euan Granger, taught me how to study at home. I wasn’t good at studying myself, so he taught me techniques for how to focus and block out noise.

This year they offered me a laptop with specialist programmes on it to help me study, but I felt I was ready to be more independent. The support over the last few years has helped me gain confidence in myself and my abilities. It’s been great.”

What are your future plans?

“Student Services have helped me plan out what I want to do next. When I finish the HNC Construction Management course, I want to go to university, so they will help me with my application next year.

I have always thought about going to university but I thought it would be later in life. My parents went to university when they were in their 30s. I am excited to see where my career path takes me.

Eventually, I hope to get a job in quantity surveying or marketing for the construction industry.”

 

Euan is just one example of a student who has progressed through several levels and courses at Ayrshire College. Student Services and Inclusive Learning are areas of the College committed to supporting students in any way they can.

Student Services offer different kinds of support depending on your needs. You can use the service as often as you need. The advisors are here to support you throughout your time at Ayrshire College.

Student Services can also put you in touch with other college services such as funding, Inclusive Learning, counselling and more.

Inclusive Learning are also available to ensure students that require additional support are able to access equipment and resources to aid their learning.

For more information on services available to students click here.

For more information on school-college courses click here.

Employers are ‘kick-starting’ their involvement in Foundation Apprenticeships – GE Caledonian

Foundation Apprenticeships are proving to be quite the hit at Ayrshire College, not only with school pupils, but local employers too. This year as a part of our Year 1 Engineering Foundation Apprenticeship programme two local companies, GE Caledonian and Woodward, have been actively mentoring the pupils during their practical classes.

Foundation Apprenticeships are two-year long courses for School pupils going into S5. One of the top benefits of the course is the employer engagement.


As we are coming to the end of Year 1 for our second set of Engineering Foundation Apprentices, we caught up with Gordon, Apprenticeship Mentor, from GE Caledonian to find out why he wanted to be involved with the course.     

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Gordon (third left) with the Foundation Apprentices

Why would GE Caledonian be interested in mentoring the Engineering Foundation Apprenticeship Class?

For us this is a way to identify potential future candidates, so it is brilliant. We get to work with the pupils in a classroom environment and be a part of discovering new talent. As well as finding talent, we can also play a part in supporting those that maybe aren’t ready to apply for an MA with us yet, but could in the future.

Mentoring the class has also enabled us to support a pupil who applied for an MA with us but didn’t get selected for interview due to his CV. When I found this out, I felt that as a company we could support this pupil. Meaning if he decides to apply to us next year, then great, but it will ensure he is in a good position for wherever he decides to apply.

Does this programme help you recruit directly for your Modern Apprenticeship Programme?

We are using the Foundation Apprenticeship and PEO courses almost like a pipeline feeding into our Modern Apprenticeship programme. The workshop experience and qualifications they get from these courses means we can recruit the pupils straight into a second year apprenticeship.

By being a part of the class as a Mentor, it’s kind of like pre-apprenticeship interviews, we get to know them and they get to know what we would expect.

On my first visit to the class, I spoke with the pupils to learn more about them. Helping with their practical activities actually reminded me of when I was an apprentice, which was a nice throwback to my younger days.

The practical experience the pupils gain from these courses is a great foundation for us to build on in our Modern Apprenticeship programme. Taking the time out of my working day to be here makes absolute sense for the company. We get to know who we are investing in and can be assured of their knowledge and abilities in an environment they are comfortable in and don’t feel they are being tested by us.

Is there a mix of male and female apprentices at GE Caledonian?

This is something we as a company we feel very strongly about. We want to inspire both male and female pupils to come and work with us. I know there is a mind-set that only males come and do apprenticeships, but that is just not the case with us. We have very successful female apprentices on our programmes and we want to continue to encourage all pupils to apply to work with us. This is something we have always done.

How is Fraser (Year 2 Engineering Foundation Apprentice) getting on?

Fraser is just a fantastic pupil, he has exceeded our expectations. He is gearing up to start with us in August as a Modern Apprentice.


Kirsty Taylor, Foundation Apprenticeship Lead at the College commented: “Engagement from employers is paramount to the overall success of these types of programmes. It is not just about hearing about jobs and visiting companies, it is about having the opportunity to converse with employers, find out what they are looking for from young people, and just having the confidence to demonstrate their knowledge and skills for the mentors. Currently, we have had several Year 2 Engineering Foundation Apprentices being offered Modern Apprenticeships upon completion of the course. In one case, a pupil was even offered the MA a year in advance. These are the types of opportunities employer engagement can offer.