Apprentices from around the country tell us what it’s like to work in a nuclear power station on the EDF Energy apprentice scheme
Whilst university may be the first choice for some, more and more A-level students are looking at apprentice schemes as another route.
Rochelle Grimmer, 21, is a chemistry technician at Sizewell B power station in Suffolk
Rochelle Grimmer has recently completed a two year programme with a focus on chemistry at EDF Energy and has achieved an HNC in Chemistry at Greenwich University.
“My desire to work at EDF Energy began with a work experience placement at Sizewell B when I was 13 and studying at Kirkley High School in Lowestoft.” Rochelle said.
“I worked in a number of different departments, but learning about chemistry was my favourite, so when I passed my A levels, I applied and was successful in securing a Chemistry trainee position in September 2011.
“I was given on the job training in chemistry but also studied for my HNC.”
Having successfully qualified, Rochelle is now employed as a chemistry technician, where her focus is to provide environmental support.
“The best thing about the apprentice programme is it has provided me with the opportunity for hands on experience, that has led to me securing full time employment.”
Rochelle was featured on in an episode of the BBC flagship rural affairs programme Countryfile. Presenter Julia Bradbury talked with Rochelle about her role at the power station.
Rochelle was featured taking a sample of sea water at the outfall pipe, the last environmental monitoring point before the water goes back out to sea. The sea water was tested for chlorine in one of the chemistry labs on site to show the safety of the water.
Nathan Davies, 24, is an assistant maintenance team leader at Dungeness B power station in Kent.
Nathan Davies, 24, from Canterbury studied all three sciences and design for A-Levels and had intended going to university before changing his mind to apply for the EDF Energy apprentice scheme.
“I was all set to do engineering design at university as I wanted to get involved with the design of race car engines.” Nathan said.
“But then I saw the advert for the apprentice scheme and I thought about the guaranteed career prospects, and that I still get to do engineering, so it seemed like a much better choice. I prefer to be hands-on rather than be sat in a classroom looking at theories.
“I wanted to get onto the EDF Energy engineering maintenance scheme because it is a good career path and I know there’s a strong future ahead of me as an engineer, especially in nuclear. It’s a good place to work and great to be involved in such an exciting industry, people are always going to need energy.”
Two years after finishing the scheme Nathan now works as an assistant maintenance team leader at Dungeness B power station in Kent.
“Most of my friends went to university but in the same amount of time I’m at least at the same level as them, if not more. And I haven’t got any debt. A lot say they wish they’d done something like me. Some of my friends struggled to get jobs and others found jobs but didn’t enjoy them so I think I’m really lucky to be where I am.
“I think in the past people that have done A-Levels automatically assume the next step is to go to university, and don’t even think about an apprentice scheme. But there are plenty of routes that can lead to great jobs and don’t involve going to university.”
Josh Smith, 22, is a craft and instrumentation technician at Heysham 1 in Lancashire
Days after picking up his AS results and faced with a final year in sixth form Josh Smith from Carnforth, Lancashire took the tough decision to leave school and venture into the world of work.
“I just knew I didn’t want to go to university, although I wasn’t sure what I was going to do,” Josh, 22, said.
Eventually Josh held down a series of part-time jobs while waiting to join EDF Energy’s renowned apprentice training programme.
“The year out gave me a chance to ’grow-up’, and I applied to the apprentice scheme hoping to join in 2009 but didn’t get in.
“But the second time my interview presentation was all about what I had learned in my 12 months since leaving school.”
In 2010 Josh joined the four-year apprentice scheme which consists of two years at a training centre at HMS Sultan, Portsmouth. He went on to win the fleet apprentice of the year award and then came back to complete the final two years back on site at Heysham 1.
In July, Josh was appointed as a craft and instrumentation technician at Heysham 1 and is now looking forward to building on the experience he has already gained and moving towards leadership roles within EDF Energy.
“I would not have swapped my time with the company with going to university. I know many of my friends who have done well from university but also others who are struggling to get a job.
“I am now starting out on a career with EDF Energy, where I have been earning while I have been learning.”
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