We spoke to Holly Broadhurst, winner of the 2016 National Apprenticeship Awards’ Nuclear Decommissioning Site Licence Companies Award for the Higher/Degree Apprentice of the Year.
What attracted you to mechanical engineering as a profession?
At a young age I had a fascination of needing to understand how things worked and how they were put together, my interest increased with STEM subjects at school. So When I first started my apprenticeship I knew I wanted to work in engineering, and I thought I would likely go down the manufacturing or service route. My apprenticeship at JCB enabled me to rotate around different parts of the business and find out what best suited my skills.
Why did you choose to do an apprenticeship?
At school it was expected I would go to university, but through asking questions and pushing the boundaries I found out that this wasn’t the only route open to me.
My careers adviser at JCB Academy told me about the JCB apprenticeship programme. I was successful in gaining a place in the first year they introduced the higher degree apprenticeship – which was also the first year they introduced the £9,000 university fees!
I look at my friends who went to university and they are only just getting the workplace experience now.
Did you do A-levels as part of the programme?
I enrolled with JCB Academy to do my A Levels and then embarked on a diploma in Engineering. Then, my careers advisor at the JCB academy informed me about the apprenticeship programme offered by the business and I haven’t looked back since!
"Having more women within the industry changes the dynamics of the working environment. I started an event called ‘Girls into Engineering’ which encourages girls from the age of 9-11 to understand what engineering is, and hopefully get them more enthused about STEM subjects. I believe there is not enough information as to what you can do with the subjects you study at school and the different routes you can take to achieve the career you desire."
What academic/technical advantages do you think your apprenticeship has given you?
My apprenticeship has benefitted me in every way possible. Moving round different parts of the business gave me the opportunity to try different things and find out what suited me – even getting to spend time in the finance and marketing departments and seeing how they work. Alongside this valuable experience, I’ve learnt key skills in engineering, mechanical and hydraulics, as well as the theory behind all of it.
Are there any other advantages an apprenticeship has given you?
By rotating around different parts of the business I’ve gained a good insight into how the company is run. It has ultimately allowed me to discover that going into mechanical engineering, and being able to secure a full-time position as a Design Engineer, was the best path for me.
Moreover, my confidence has grown enormously through talking to suppliers and managers on a regular basis.
Have you experienced any challenges being a woman in engineering?
I have never had any issues with being a woman in engineering; there is definitely a lack of female engineers within the industry. We should encourage more women into engineering, to change the perception of what engineering is and how vast the opportunities are.
What female role models have helped you during your career so far?
So far, I am grateful for my female lecturer from the JCB Academy, who as a woman within engineering provided me with a valuable role-model.
Why do you think it’s important to encourage other women into the industry?
Having more women within the industry changes the dynamics of the working environment. I started an event called ‘Girls into Engineering’ which encourages girls from the age of 9-11 to understand what engineering is, and hopefully get them more enthused about STEM subjects.
I believe there is not enough information as to what you can do with the subjects you study at school and the different routes you can take to achieve the career you desire.
For more information and to find out how to get involved in National Apprenticeship Week 2017, visit gov.uk/NAW2017. Alternatively call the National Apprenticeship Service on 08000 150 600 or go to GOV.UK and search ‘apprenticeships’ or ‘traineeships’.