I was never the A* star student that was awarded certificates on a regular basis, I could never get on with sitting at a desk, practising theory work; I was always a hands-on kind of learner, I learn by doing, not by writing.
However, I was only 14 years old and was required to stay in education until I was 16. So, I had to look at my options and decide what I wanted to do in life. Realising I was mechanically minded and that I enjoyed taking push bikes apart to fix them, (I still do this from time to time), I decided to enrol at my local college to begin an Engineering NVQ course. This course was work-based learning, so I spent 2 days at school, 1 day at college and 2 days at work.
As part of the NVQ, I was required to find myself a part time job to experience on the job learning. So, off I went, searching for someone to take me on. Still only 14, I managed to secure myself a job within a car garage, being a young lad, cars were a strong interest of mine. However, after some time, I found that it wasn’t the career for me. So, back I was, job hunting again, this time landing myself a role within a motorbike garage, even though this was a bit more to my taste, you guessed it, I didn’t get on with that either. So yet again, I found myself seeking another placement.
Realising motor mechanics wasn’t for me and given that my NVQ was for engineering, I began searching for local engineering firms to find a placement (by this time I was 15 years of age).
That’s when I found Tridan Engineering. After a lot of convincing, as they did not currently have any vacancies, I managed to secure myself an interview with them.
Back at home, I had been playing with my Dad’s small lathe that he kept in the garage, making creative parts that came to mind at the time. So, I decided to bring these small parts along with me to my interview, in a bag.
Being only 15 years old, I was very nervous, inexperienced and under dressed for an interview; jeans and a T-shirt if I remember rightly.
So off we went up the stairs for my interview. I had no GCSE grades due to my age, so I had nothing to show them apart from the parts I had made on my dad’s lathe and to tell them about myself such as hobbies and interests. There’s not much they could have asked me really considering I was 15 years old with no experience or GCSE’s.
A couple of days later I received a call from Paul Hawkins, the Managing Director, who offered me a job!
A year later, I completed my NVQ and even received a student of the year award from the college. At the end of my NVQ, Tridan could’ve let me go as there was no obligation for them to continue my employment. But to my delight my MD and my manager attended my end of year award ceremony and surprised me with a letter of employment and a shiny new toolbox. From this I started a City & Guilds apprenticeship and progressed over the years achieving City & Guilds level 1, 2 and 3 qualifications.
Then it was all about learning from the people around me, honing in on the skills I had learnt and I am still learning every day as new tools and machines are being introduced all the time. I have progressed up through different machines and departments including 5 axis, horizontals, 3 and 4 axis machines and even a sliding head machine.
I am 27 years old, and I am currently a Deputy Milling Supervisor still within Tridan – a hefty 13 years later.
I would like to thank Tridan for taking a risk and employing a young boy with little to offer on paper and giving him the chance not many people would have. It’s also to remind others to look beyond the outside of those young 15-16 year olds that may not be the best dressed or have those A* grades, but to focus on their ambition and determination as a young person.
Who knows they may have to start at the bottom but could turn out to be that supervisor or manager you need. Those underachievers can be those successors, after all everyone has to start from somewhere, right?
This blog was written by Will Vaughan-Chatfield back in 2017. Will is still working at Tridan as a section supervisor and is full of the enthusiasm that he had when he first came to Tridan in 2005. He is a prime example of what an apprenticeship can do for a young person that is focused and driven in the vast world of engineering.
If you feel that precision engineering is the right path for you then please get in touch with us as we will very soon be looking at our next wave of apprentice intakes.