Spectra staff who grew into their current roles through apprenticeship paths within the company recently shared their stories in the run-up to National Apprenticeship Week.

Cormac is Spectra's Mechanical and Tooling Design Engineer

Josh is Spectra Tool Room Supervisor

Erik is Spectras Maintenance Technician

26-year-old Josh Spall started Spectra as a Tool Room Apprentice 8 years ago and has grown to become Tool Room supervisor through completing his apprenticeships and a degree apprenticeship in engineering. 

Erik Tompkins, 25, joined Spectra in the Maintenance department as an Engineering Maintenance Apprentice and has been with the company for over six years and is now a qualified Maintenance Technician. 

Cormac Warne, who is also 25, started Spectra 5 years ago as a Tool Room Apprentice. After completing his apprenticeship, he used the skills he had learnt from the tool room department and is now a Mechanical and Tooling Design Engineer working in the design office. 

To help gain an insight into their thoughts on the benefits of embarking on an apprenticeship, Josh, Erik and Cormac answered the following questions. 

Why did you choose to do an apprenticeship? 

Josh: I always wanted to go down the apprenticeship route ever since beginning my GCSEs. I much preferred the method of learning on the job, acquiring better practical skills, and attending day release college courses, relevant to my tool making job roles. 

Erik: The on-the-job training suited me best 

Cormac: I wanted to continue studying but didn’t feel that University was for me 

What made you choose Spectra for your apprenticeship? 

Josh: After completing my A-Levels, I began looking for apprenticeships in the engineering industry, either mechanical/machining, electrical or fabrication. As they are each year, acquiring an apprenticeship with a company is hard to come by. I chose Spectra because it was close to home and I wanted to stay in the local area at the time. The apprenticeship they offer is one of the best in the area, and I could see at the time, many opportunities would be available in this fast-growing company. 

Erik: There is brilliant potential within the company upon completion of your apprenticeship. 

Cormac: Spectra are a local, rapidly growing company with many opportunities for me to pursue my career. 

How has Spectra supported you in your role? 

Josh: I can honestly say I would not be in the position I am today without Spectra’s support in the years I’ve been working here. Learning alongside some of the best toolmakers in the trade, learning key skills for this role, which will stay with me for life. I will forever be grateful for the support and funding of my Level 3 Machining and Foundation degree in engineering qualifications. 

Erik: I have been continually supported by my colleagues in the subjects that I most enjoyed. 

Cormac: Spectra has opened opportunities for me to develop as an engineer, allowing me to study further qualifications to become confident in my role. 

What are the benefits of completing an apprenticeship? 

Josh: One of the apprenticeship’s key benefits is on the job learning, especially in a practical job such as tool making. The opportunity to learn from some of the best people in the trade is a massive advantage. Getting to go to college on my day release to further that learning is another. Another benefit is while learning all this; you get paid at the same time and at the end of the apprenticeship, you will have your qualifications, without student loans to repay. 

Erik: You gain invaluable experience as well as the necessary qualifications you require at the same time. 

Cormac: It is an opportunity to gain hands-on skills and qualifications while being paid, it could also be an excellent way to get your foot into a company. 

What advice would you give to anyone thinking about doing an apprenticeship? 

Josh: I would advise anyone to consider the apprenticeship route, especially in the engineering industry, as it can give anyone a great start in their chosen career. 

Erik: It can be a brilliant choice, ask questions to learn the most from your colleagues – the harder you work, the more you will get out of it. 

Cormac: Make sure you join a company that offers exciting opportunities and will allow you to develop. 

Spectra are proud of its former apprentice’s achievements. Their talents and their willingness to learn, have helped them develop into their current valued working roles. Spectra employs many industry experts across all departments within the business, some of whom boast vast amounts of experience. It’s their understanding and skills which help support those apprentices flourish. Their roles cannot be underestimated in contributing to the success of Spectra’s on-going apprenticeship programmes. We were keen to get department heads’ views, who played a key role in Josh, Erik and Cormac’s successes. 

Josh’s manager, Darren Davies, commented:  

“The toolroom benefits from the talent pool of young and enthusiastic individuals, with their new and fresh ideas, who can become valuable members of our department. The enthusiasm and positive outlook the young individuals bring to the workplace rubs off on existing members of the toolroom, making it a happy place to work in for the other team members”.  

Darren went on to add, 

“In my personal experience working for different companies offering apprentice routes, I have witnessed lower staff turnaround. This is due to apprentices choosing to stay with the company, as they find there are more opportunities than existing companies that invest in them, which gives you a bright future for the company. “

Erik’s manager, Mark Clarke, says:  

“We have benefitted from having several apprentices working in our Maintenance department. They bring enthusiasm and an eagerness to learn, which is always refreshing. Erik has worked hard and thrived since joining us over six years ago. With an excellent work ethic and natural problem-solving skills, he has established himself as an invaluable member of our highly skilled team”. 

Cormac’s manager, Stuart Mayston said, 

“Having Cormac with us has benefitted us greatly. Using knowledge gained while working hands-on in the toolroom has provided a great foundation for him to draw on during tool design. The scheme is a good way for the apprentice and company to get to know each other, enabling the company to recognise abilities and the apprentice to get a feel for different business areas and a direction they may wish to pursue.  

He added, 

“In Cormac’s case, his hard work, ability and collaborative approach were recognised and provided a welcome addition to the design department”. 

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