Alex Jackson, aged 17, pipped university graduates to the post to get an apprenticeship at global engineering giant Siemens.

When Alex Jackson applied to do an apprenticeship at Siemens in Mechanical Engineering, he found himself up against candidates who had gone to university. Luckily, he had plenty to talk about at the interview:

“We’d done a Greenpower project at UTC Leeds, which really did boost my knowledge. It meant that in the interview I had something I could talk about.”

Alex was able to use his experience at the UTC to stand out from the other candidates: “It’s hard to get into Siemens, but I’d learnt a lot at the UTC. Leaving mainstream school and going to the UTC was one of the best decisions I’ve made because it put me forward for lots of opportunities. At my original school, I would never have been able to learn the things I’ve learnt at the UTC.”

The Siemens plant in Leeds where Alex is now based provides products and service for onshore and offshore wind turbines, motors and gearboxes for the rail industry, as well as a variety of other mechanical handling solutions such as baggage systems at airports or drive applications at cement plants. The Leeds operation has been expanding over recent years, driven by digital technologies which are transforming engineering and manufacturing. The company has invested substantially in new equipment, technology and testing to support expansion. Finding the right talent is equally important, and the company has been a great supporter of UTC Leeds.

Simon Nadin, Managing Director at the Leeds plant, comments, “As one of the founding members of Leeds UTC and an active governor, I am particularly proud that the strongest candidate in our apprentice recruitment process last year came from the UTC. Alex has proved to be a great addition to the team. His enthusiasm, confidence and ability to contribute has enabled him to make an early impact. I look forward to seeing him grow within the business and help us on our digitalisation journey.”

The apprenticeship scheme at Siemens is varied, and apprentices move round different parts of the company. At the moment Alex is working in manufacturing assembling geared motors, as he explains:

“You get a tray of parts and you have to make it into a motor. You make it then you test it, then you fix any problems, and when it’s finally perfect you send it out. It’s a lot to remember. You get shown how to do it to start with, and supervised as you try to make it yourself, then when you’ve made it correctly a number of times under supervision you’re left to get on. I really like it because you’ve got an end product. You start with a bunch of parts and you end up with a product that works correctly.”

Alex admits it was challenging to start with. Not just the early starts but taking everything on board, meeting lots of new people and getting lots more knowledge of everything whilst also being at college, but he is really enjoying it.

Asked what he would say to new recruits at UTC Leeds, he says: “Enjoy what you’re learning because then you’ll take it in more. The facilities are fantastic. No other school has got facilities like the UTC.”

You can join UTC Leeds in Y10 or Y12. Apply online now
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