18 Aug 2022
Here at Transport for Wales, we’re proud to offer a wide range of fantastic apprenticeship opportunities to help young people kickstart their careers.
Our programmes are designed to enable our apprentices to achieve their vocational qualification and embark on a personal development programme, all whilst gaining a host of valuable skills and real experiences in the world of work. These opportunities allow us to recruit some of the best talent around to support our teams in delivering a transport network Wales can be proud of.
And proud is exactly how we are feeling right now, as we have recently been able to celebrate some of our wonderful Fleet apprentices who have completed their studies and graduated with full honours!
Chloe Thomas, Lewis Williams, and Nathan Currie have all been balancing their studies with working life at Transport for Wales for the last four years. As they don their cap and gown and celebrate the fantastic achievements that they have worked so hard for, we spoke to them to find out a little bit about them, how they found balancing their studies with working life, and the advice they would give to anybody considering an apprenticeship with us, each giving an account of what the experience has been like for them. Here’s what they had to say:
Hi, my name is Chloe Thomas, and I am currently working as a Fleet Support Engineer for Transport for Wales assisting in areas of both fleet maintenance and engineering, to help ensure the smooth running of the Fleet Engineering department.
As well as my job, I have been studying towards BSc Honours in Electrical and Electronic Engineering for the past few years on a part time basis. Throughout my studies I’ve been able to attend weekly lectures, balancing them around my working week at Transport for Wales.
Having the chance to complete my degree whilst also working full time in my role has been both a great opportunity and learning curve. It has allowed me to manage my own time, learn, carry out investigations, complete exams, and produce dissertation reports to a high standard. The subjects learnt throughout my degree have given me an insight into the future of our fleet and technology, as some of the topics included hybrid electric vehicles, DC Machines, Battery technology and Power systems.
The variety on the course has been great, but my favourite part has been completing my dissertation project, as I was able to manage myself and produce a working prototype that offered a time and money saving alternative to a current task carried out at Canton Depot.
My advice to anybody taking the same learning route as myself would be to give it your all and seize the opportunity to study whilst working. There is a huge amount of investment going into the rail industry which offers huge potential for a long and happy career. With the industry also becoming a more and more diverse place to work, there is ample opportunity for people from all walks of life to follow their desired career. And any opportunities to gain additional qualifications through studying are of course a huge bonus!
Although it has taken slightly longer than a conventional university course due to it being part-time, I feel a huge sense of achievement gaining the qualification whilst working in a full-time role. After recently getting my results, I was over the moon to find out that not only did I receive a First- Class Honours Degree, but that I was awarded the IET Prize for most outstanding student! Whilst at my graduation ceremony I was delighted to be given my award by the secretary of the IET. I was also presented with an additional award by the Dean of the University – the Certificate of Excellence for USW. It was a phenomenal end to my university education, and I’m looking forward to the future!
Hi, I’m Lewis Williams, and I’m a Fleet Maintenance Apprentice at Canton Depot. I started this apprenticeship with a passion for building projects, mechanical engineering and electronics. Thanks to my combined learning experiences at Coleg Y Cymoedd and the shop floor at Canton Railway Depot, I’ve now successfully Graduated with 2 Distinctions and 2 Merits in HNC+ - Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Level 3 NVQ in Traction and Rolling Stock, and a Level 3 BTEC in Electrical and Electronic engineering!
These qualifications have allowed me to further my understanding of passions I already had to begin with, whilst developing so many connections along the way. Although balancing alternate shift patterns working both days and nights whilst completing the course modules was challenging at times, Transport for Wales tailored the experience to meet my needs and make sure I had enough rest in between work and education every step of the way.
As part of my apprenticeship, I’ve gained experience building and debugging electrical circuits and programming them myself to output functions I desire. Thanks to the experience and training courses provided by Transport For Wales, I now have a much greater appreciation for mechanical engineering systems - especially the functions of engines!
The highlight of my experience was being able to call my parents and deliver the news that I had completed my 4-year apprenticeship – a memory to last a lifetime! My advice to anyone who wishes to become part of the team and complete a similar process would be to listen to your elders, and complete as many courses and GCSE’s as possible during or after your school years.
I’m Nathan Currie and I’ve just completed the fourth and last year of my apprenticeship with Transport for Wales. I’m currently a Fleet Apprentice at Canton depot, however in September I’m hoping to progress into the role of a qualified Category 4 Fleet Maintenance Technician, alongside continuing with my education and studying towards a foundation degree in electrical and electronic engineering.
I’m so grateful for the opportunities that TfW have provided me - not only have I been able to continue my education up to HNC+ level, but I’ve gained 4 years’ experience working on a range of fleet, including everything from the old pacers to our 769’s… and soon, we’ll be able to add the Stadler fleet to that list too!
Working a shift pattern whilst studying towards my qualifications was difficult at times, however I felt well supported by my mentors, who were always on hand to offer support and guidance.
I would thoroughly recommend an apprenticeship to anyone looking to undertake one, as it really is the perfect route into the rail industry. I’ve gained so many engineering skills that’ll stay with me throughout my whole career, and as well as the leaning side of things, I’ve always been made to feel a valued member of my team right from the very beginning.
TfW Fleet Engineering Manager Start Mills spoke of his pride and confidence in our graduate’s future success:
“Seeing our apprentices graduate brings a huge smile to my face. Having completed an apprenticeship myself, I fully appreciate the commitment and hard work made by all over the last 4 years.
“However, I am also absolutely sure that this hard work will pay each of them back in plenty of success, both in their professional careers and in their personal lives in years to come. It’s a ‘win win’ for TfW, the rail industry, engineering, and of course, the graduates themselves!”.
We’d like to thank our graduates for all of their hard work with us here so far, both in their studies and in day-to-day professional life. We’d also like to say a huge thank you of course to our staff within Fleet and across the business, whose enthusiasm and expertise has helped our apprentices develop their Knowledge and Practical skills each and everyday, ready for a long and successful career on the railway.