Engineering apprenticeships at Applied Automation

Applied Automation apprentice Harry Woodward talking to mechanical foreman, Lewis Dunne.

A modern apprenticeship with Applied Automation

Nineteen-year-old Harry Woodward came to Applied Automation in March 2017 on a three-month contract as a junior fitter. He made the most of the opportunity, quickly showing an aptitude for the work. His potential was spotted and Harry was offered the opportunity of a full apprenticeship which he accepted. In September 2017 he started his first year of study at Plymouth’s City College.

Harry Woodward said: “I came here for three months and really enjoyed it. People were friendly and there was a positive feel about the place. I haven’t looked back since.”

Early in a career an apprentice will learn how to use tools properly, carrying out fairly simple tasks. This develops good habits and refines techniques that will become the foundation of any good engineer’s repertoire of skills.

Harry added: “I built a chain for an automated assembly line that takes individual syringe components and puts them together and packs them into boxes. It was 13 metres long with 6,000 screws in it…I had to make two of them. That’s what’s called character building!

“Three months is enough time to get a feel for a place and a person. Our operations manager, Jo and my foreman, Lewis were impressed with my work and attitude and they offered me the opportunity of a mechanical engineering apprenticeship.”

Good apprenticeships are highly sought after. Achieving good maths and English exam results certainly makes things easier when approaching local companies.

Harry said: “I struggled to get good grades in English at the first time of asking. I retook my English exams and worked at B&Q for a while getting work experience doing plastering and carpentry. I was then offered this opportunity with Applied Automation.”

There are many routes into an engineering role and all have their merits. A modern apprenticeship offers the opportunity to ‘earn while you learn’, while gaining real-world work experience. Modern Apprentices still have the option to work towards a degree qualification if they show aptitude, without incurring the debts that academically qualified engineers are at risk of.

An engineering apprenticeship teaches someone how to work methodically and precisely, developing an ability to manage a varied workload. Couple this with theoretical knowledge and practical experience and you have all the ingredients for a qualified, well-rounded technician or engineer.

Jo Tracey, operations manager at Applied Automation said: “We’re a growing company. Investing in an apprenticeship programme is vital for the company’s long-term success. We want to attract people like Harry. Motivated employees who are open to learning and have a good attitude and approach to work. These are the qualities an employer is looking for.”

Harry concluded: “This apprenticeship is good for my future. I see excellent opportunities here, I get paid while studying and I won’t be in debt at the end. I think an apprenticeship is a great alternative to going to uni. I feel supported and the people here at Applied are keen to help me progress. It was definitely the right thing for me.”

If you are interested in an electrical, mechanical or software engineering apprenticeship at Applied Automation, tell us why you would like to work for us and email it to