Bisley Furniture: Apprenticeship Q&A

We interviewed Sam Ostrolenk, Senior Design Engineer of Bisley Furniture Ltd on his Apprenticeship journey and his advice to anyone considering an apprenticeship.

Why did you opt for the Apprenticeship route and how did you get into it?

I chose an apprenticeship over college or sixth form as I felt it better suited my career aspirations. I am practically minded and I thought that by doing an apprenticeship my skills would be put to better use than in a school or sixth form environment. I chose Mechanical Engineering in particular because it is an area I was always interested in and knew it was a job I could excel in. By choosing an apprenticeship, I had the opportunity to learn practical skills I wouldn’t have got from going to college full time, while earning money from a young age.

What did you cover in your apprenticeship?

During my Mechanical Engineering apprenticeship I covered a mixture of mechanical skills such as working on Lathes, Milling Machines and hand crafting as well as mechanical principles, material and design theory work.

How was your training organised and how did it support your development?

I spent the first year of my apprenticeship at a training school, which hosted practical modules that would support my NVQ level 2. During this time I spent one day a week at college studying towards my ONC. For the last three years I worked on site at Bisley, where I was able to implement the practical skills I developed at the training school and theory knowledge from my ONC. During this time I was also continuing to study for my NVQ level 2 and 3, and was spending one day a week at college to complete my ONC and HNC qualifications.

What do you feel are the main advantages of an apprenticeship? (against going to full time college)

I feel an apprenticeship gives you a great opportunity to learn new skills which will help towards your job and future career. Another benefit is that it supports you financially whilst you learn.

What challenges did you face during your time as an apprentice?

The main challenge I faced was being able to balance time between completing work for my qualifications while having job responsibilities on site at Bisley, but I was able to overcome that by making sure I put time aside during the week to focus on college work.

What attracted you to this industry?

I wanted to be a part of an industry that is evolving and has an exciting future, which is something I saw within manufacturing. I also found that my logical way of thinking and practical skills would be best suited within an industry that is always changing with new technologies, and so saw manufacturing as my best fit. I was attracted to Bisley in particular as I wanted to be a part of growing business, that is innovative in the way products are designed and created and this is something I have been fortunate to experience in my 10 years with the company.

What advice would you give to anyone considering an apprenticeship?

Apprenticeships are great for some many reasons, and give you the perfect opportunity to work, learn and earn all at the same time without the need to commit to a part time job. But they also are a huge commitment alone. I was fortunate to know exactly what I wanted to go into, so was able to find a course and role that suited me. For someone looking for practical experience, then apprenticeships are certainly the way forward, but if you don’t know exactly what you want to go into then I would advise considering a role that spans a few areas within an industry to begin with, which will give you the opportunity to choose your own career path.

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