From classroom to career: An engineering apprentice's path to success

Engineering apprentice Millie Norman shares how on-the-job training launched her career and why apprenticeships offer great options for aspiring engineers

05 February 2024

When leaving school, young people face important decisions about their future career paths. Apprenticeships provide opportunities for learners to develop life-changing skills, as well as offering an alternative to university for those looking to enter sectors like engineering. 

Millie Norman is an engineering apprentice at Gen2 – a part of City & Guilds Training. She chose an apprenticeship straight out of sixth form and is now in the second year of her Nuclear Welding Inspection apprenticeship. For Millie, there were a number of reasons why an apprenticeship was the right choice – not only has it given her an opportunity to grow her knowledge of the industry, she’s also gained “real-life working experience” through working at organisations like Sellafield and Energus.  

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In this interview, Millie shares insights from personal experience about the benefits of apprenticeships. From networking to mentorship to gaining practical skills, Millie explores all the advantages that motivated this career choice and how it fits into her future plans.  

Why did you choose an apprenticeship after leaving school?

After completing my A-Levels at school, I knew I wanted to continue to learn and develop my knowledge of engineering and of the nuclear industry when I was leaving sixth form, but I was uncertain of what path to take to pursue this (e.g., an apprenticeship or university).  

I chose to apply for an apprenticeship as I believed that it would be more beneficial to continue to grow my knowledge whilst being in the industry and gaining real life working experience.  

I knew throughout school that I was a visual learner and would therefore have benefitted more from being in an environment where I could watch different jobs take place in real life, rather than learning it from a textbook. 

What is the best thing about being an apprentice?

I believe the best thing about being an apprentice is the wide, diverse range of people you meet within the industry. Being introduced to different job roles and different people gave me a real understanding of what working life in the nuclear industry is really like – all working together to reach the common goal.  

I believe being surrounded by many people from different engineering backgrounds also gives me a wider support system to complete my apprenticeship. This is because I would always be certain that any query I have about my apprenticeship or the industry would be answered, as I have many different contacts who are always willing to help. 

Why did you choose engineering as a sector? What excites you about the engineering sector?

Gen2 PPE imageEngineering is a sector that is involved in almost everything in life whether it's chemical, civil, mechanical and beyond. It’s an everchanging and growing sector. I find engineering extremely interesting due to its successful adaptations throughout time from learning and trials. In my opinion, it is a sector that is going to give me a lot of opportunities to try new things and be a part of the constant growing and developing of engineering techniques and the nuclear industry.

What would you say to other young people who are looking at career options about apprenticeships and engineering?

Any young person looking to apply for an apprenticeship in engineering should take every opportunity they’re presented with to excel. This is whilst applying and whilst in the job role. Completing different work experiences and tasks that you learn about through schools or social media are all beneficial when applying as they provide knowledge and understanding about engineering and the specific sector you’re looking for.

What do you want to do after you have finished your apprenticeship? What are your career goals?

Once I have finished my apprenticeship, my goal is to continue to complete more qualifications and become more confident in my job role. This is so I am able to work my way up the ladder and hopefully partake on a managerial role in the future. 

Learn more about Gen2, part of City & Guilds Training

Learn more about apprenticeship options at Skills for Careers