Alana Corden-Bowen, 19, is a second-year apprentice at Currie Warner, a precision brass parts manufacturer in the West Midlands. Last year she received an award as a top apprentice at the EEF Technology Training Centre.
What type of apprenticeship are you doing?
I’m doing an engineering apprenticeship, and since I’m in my second year, I’m spending four days a week at my employer at Tuesdays at the training centre doing my Btec.
This year at my job I’ve been working on the machines, like CNC and lathes. Next year I’m going to be moving more into the customer service/quality control side of things at my company, which I’m excited to learn more about.
Why did you choose to do an engineering apprenticeship?
I left school at 16 and took a full time job. I then started taking a college course, but it wasn’t going anywhere, I wasn’t earning any money and I wasn’t getting any satisfaction out of it. I was kind of at odds about what to do.
I visited the EEF website and looked at the apprenticeship vacancies. I thought this was something I could be proud of, while earning a wage and working towards something. I have huge pride in saying I’m a girl and I’m an engineer. It was definitely a good choice.
What’s the training at the tech centre like?
It’s fun to be honest. It’s not as immature at school; you’re not treated like a child. You get to have fun whilst doing your work.
What kind of job would you like to work in ultimately?
I’d like to become a manager. I really respect my managers that have come up through the company as apprentices, because they know all the roles.
What are some of the biggest stereotypes or misconceptions you hear about engineering and manufacturing?
A lot of people think it would be a problem working with mostly boys, but we’re all of similar ages with common ground, and we learn from each other.
People sometimes think engineering means you have to get really high grades at maths, but I’ve gotten 10 times better at maths since I’ve been learning it on the job. It’s not a problem; you can get through it.
Would you recommend an apprenticeship to others, including young women?
Yes absolutely, it’s definitely worth taking the leap. It’s been the best training I’ve done at college or other places.
What’s been the highlight of your apprenticeship experience so far?
Winning Neil Tonks Endeavour Award from the staff at the training centre showed all my hard work had paid off and I was noticed for it.
To find out more about what an apprenticeship is like, visit Become an Apprentice.