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Interview with an apprentice - Princess Yachts

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Interview with an apprentice

Clarrissa-Lillie Barkess, Apprentice Engineer

Why did you choose this career?

I chose this career because my dad always took me onto the submarines in the Royal Navy in Scotland when he was based there in the Navy. I enjoyed seeing how they were put together as you could see a lot of the components and how they linked together to work. Whenever my dad had things to repair in the house he would ask if I wanted to help which I did and found that it clicked with me and I really enjoyed making things work.

How did you get in?

I did two years at City College Plymouth after leaving school for 2 years completing BTec Level 3 Engineering. The college held a careers open day which I attended and visited a lot of business stands and found Princess Yachts the best one to go further. I found that the route for the apprenticeship was a lot better than others on offer because you would work with a variety of engineering elements, like mechanical, electrical and electronics where other companies was just one of the elements. I liked the thought of being a multi skilled engineer.

What do you enjoy most about your apprenticeship?

What I think is great about my apprenticeship is that one day I can be working on fitting the engines of the boat and the next on hydraulics which includes electrics. I can move from one area to another. I have a mentor; a skilled engineer who guides and supports me through the task I am to complete and he will stay with me on that job until I am confident that I can do the task on my own, and can always ask questions if I am unsure. 

At college I have completed Functional Skills and City & Guilds Level 2 and have just progressed to Level 3. I am also completing my NVQ Level 3 in Marine Engineering.

There is a support mechanism within the business which makes sure I am on track, achieving the company standards and I get to sit with my manager monthly for a review of progress. I know that if I had a problem I could go to him or the Training Team.

The team on the boat line that I work on treat me the same as any other employee. I thoroughly enjoy coming into work; I know I will not be doing the same routine day in day out. Its great fun knowing that I can do things that I never knew I could do and I am learning so much, it is very rewarding.

At Princess I won an award for recognising my hard work and commitment to the apprenticeship scheme at an early stage. I have won two awards at the City College Plymouth - the Apprentice of the Term and the Principals Student of the Term, which I am really proud about.

What advice would you give others thinking of following the same route?

You never know if you like something until you try it. A great way would be to ask for work experience so you can see what you are getting into before looking at or entering an apprenticeship.

You get paid during your apprenticeship and at Princess your pay increases every year so you feel you are being recognised for the work you are carrying out. 

The other great thing is gaining higher qualifications and the great skills you learn during the process. There are challenges such as working and qualifications studies in your own time and you have to reach a balance for that and having some social time to see your friends.

Having the right qualifications within a business means there are lots of opportunities to enter a career it to other areas.