Undertaking an apprenticeship is a fantastic opportunity to develop your skills for the future and put you on the first steps of your career path.
What is the ACE Apprenticeship scheme?
The Engineering and Manufacturing Apprenticeship scheme is a four-year combined training programme between the University College Isle of Man (UCM) at the Advanced Manufacturing Training Centre (AMTC), Hills Meadow, and employers.
The scheme has two main elements:
- Years 1 and 2 - the Foundation Apprenticeship in Engineering course (FAIE) run at the AMTC UCM, and
- Years 3 and 4 - after successfully passing the FAIE course, having demonstrated the required personal attributes and subject to vacancies, employment as an Apprentice in a sector company.
The first two years of the training scheme are undertaken at the University College Isle of Man (UCM) full time on the Foundation Apprenticeship in Engineering course (FAIE). This gives students an opportunity to learn in-depth about the engineering and manufacturing sector, develop their skills and undertake short placements with employers regularly in the field.
Demonstrating the right personal attributes, knowledge and enthusiasm, students are presented with the opportunity to gain employment under a 2 year Apprenticeship placement in a sector company on the Isle of Man.
Some of these companies include; Swagelok, Triumph Actuation Systems, RLC and Strix.
What can I expect from the apprenticeship scheme?
Within the scheme there are currently two levels:
- Craft (City and Guilds L3 Craft Mechanical qualification), and
- Technician (L3 Cambridge Technical Foundation Diploma in Engineering qualification).
Both have the same level of practical content with the Technician level having some additional academic content. Students will be assessed at the start of Year 1 to ascertain which level they are best suited to.
The FAIE course offers a mixture of academic and practical skills development (approx 30/70 split). The course is run on a full-time basis (Monday - Friday) at the Advanced Manufacturing Training Centre (AMTC), Peel Road, Douglas. The AMTC facility is based on an engineering company working environment to enable students to get used to the working environment. The facility is structured to start students on bench working, migrating to 3 axis manual machinery, then Computer Numerical Control (CNC) programming 3 and 4 axis machinery is introduced building towards the culmination of experience on 5 axis state of the art machinery.
Syllabus delivery is via a mixture of University College Isle of Man and sector companies' staff. Modules delivered by company staff are often held at the company facility.
Near the end of Year 1, company sponsored awards are issued for certain student achievements: Best CNC, Best Fitter, Best Miller, Best Turner and Best Overall being previous awards. These awards are given to recipients at the annual University College Isle of Man Awards Ceremony generally held during May and include a monetary prize.
During the summer break between Years 1 and 2, students are given the opportunity of paid work placements with sector companies to develop their skills further whilst experiencing first hand a working environment.
If students satisfactorily pass the FAIE course and have demonstrated the required competencies and personal attributes (use link here for information on competencies) they are well positioned to secure employment as an Apprentice in any sector company with suitable vacancies.
Years 3 and 4 see the Apprentice return to the University College Isle of Man for at least one day every week to develop their competencies further. The balance of the week is spent at the employed company using and refining their competencies and developing their personal attributes. Years 3 and 4 are used to complete the NVQ Level 3 qualification practical aspects and the pace at which this is achieved is down to the Apprentice.
During Year 4, Apprentices create a project that will deliver a business improvement. Companies then have the option of submitting student projects to the Northwest Aerospace Alliance New Talent Awards.
The Northwest Aerospace Alliance New Talent Award competition is held in the UK, around October/November. For more information on the New Talent Award competition use the link here.
After successful completion of all Year 3 and 4 elements, the Apprentice becomes ‘time served’ and will take on an appropriate machine/primary operator type role within their employing company.
What happens next is then down to each person. Many are happy to hone their competencies so they become experts at manufacturing items. Some may better their skills and seek more responsibility, maybe by running several machines, or in time becoming responsible for machine operators via supervisory or team leader roles. Some may move into support roles (use link here for more information on support roles). It's really down to the individual now as to how they would like their career to progress.
The FAIE course is open to any person of any age who meets the entry requirements, though the target population are secondary school leavers. Course fees are paid for by the government as part of their support for the sector, even if an NVQ Level 2 has been undertaken already. The course starts in September each year and has spaces for 36 students. Recruitment for the course starts March/April each year and application forms can be found at the University College Isle of Man website under FAIE (use link here).
If you are interested in finding out more about careers in engineering and manufacturing, and how to get the right training through undertaking an apprenticeship, get in touch with:
John Cashin - AMTC course tutor