Advice for finding an apprenticeship | EEF

Top engineering employers share advice for securing a top apprenticeship

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From its European headquarters in Birmingham, Ishida provides weighing and packaging solutions to the food industry. Despite operating as a family business, Ishida takes pride in working around the globe with industry giants, such as PepsiCo. Ishida wants all their employees to have this sense of pride in their daily work, and this quality is one of several that Learning and Development Manager Simon Cutler looks for when evaluating potential apprentices.

Here are some of the other ways he picks out the top candidates during interviews:

  • Ishida has a lot of passion and dedication to the apprenticeship programme as a vehicle to fostering the company’s next generation of leaders. Simon wants to see that passion and dedication to learning and growing in his apprentices.
  • Simon works with the company’s apprentices to map out their four-year journey (and beyond) with Ishida. Potential apprentices who articulate a strong sense of what they want to learn where they see themselves with the company long-term have a leg up on the competition.
  • The Ishida team set high, achievable targets for their entire team, including apprentices. Young people who already have a set of personal and professional goals, with milestones along the way, show they have that mind set already.


Ibstock Brick

Paula Wardle, training manager at Ibstock Brick, oversees the apprenticeship programme across the brick manufacturer’s 19 sites. She offers if you’re looking into apprenticeships:

  • Don’t worry if you don’t live near EEF’s Apprentices and Skills Centre in Birmingham, companies like Ibstock Brick use the centre’s residency programme to ensure apprentices from across their UK sites get trained at the centre for a uniform approach to skills and qualifications.
  • Show you can work with others. During the full-day of interviewing at the centre in Birmingham, you’ll take part in a group test and personality test. Use these tests as an opportunity to show you can work with others cooperatively. Paula says they expect their apprentices to bond during training to create a problem-solving network amongst their peers that they can access when they return to the workplace.
  • Figure out your natural interests and find a training and apprenticeship regime that matches: Ibstock apprentice Jordan Fisher knew an apprenticeship was right for him because he always enjoyed taking things apart and figuring out how they worked. Similarly, another Ibstock apprentice, Jordan Fellows, tried the college route, but realised he enjoyed hands-on learning and work more.



After a first, highly successful year offering apprenticeships at their Liverpool facility, Prinovis (Europe’s largest printing services provider) is looking to continue and expand their programme in coming years. HR Director Vicci Tatton saw first-hand how important a rigourous recruitment and selection process was to the programme’s success.

Vicci has advice for potential apprentices going through the multi-step recruitment process:

Choose the right kind of apprenticeship for you (perhaps with this apprenticeship matching quiz)

  • Search the vacancy database

  • Apply for the role

  • Make sure your CV and interview skills are in tip-top shape

  • Get ready for your in-person assessment day by staying calm and letting your passion for engineering and the company you’re apply to shine through

  • Keep applying – there are so many great candidates for some roles that not everyone gets the first apprenticeship they apply for



Lee Robinson of Neu Servo, a motor repair company, puts a lot of weight the interview stage of the apprentice selection process. He makes a matrix of the most important behaviours and aptitudes are most important for the company and the role. These can include:

  • A good work ethic
  • Interest in the industry
  • Problem solving skills and initiative
  • Propensity to ask questions
  • An introverted (often a better fit for an electronic engineering apprenticeship) or extroverted (sometimes better suited to a moto engineering apprenticeship) personality

Potential candidates should think about how they can convey these traits during their phone and in-person interviews.

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