The theme for National Apprenticeship Week 2021 is #BuildTheFuture, and here at Marshall Fleet Solutions we have 15 apprentices working towards their future as MFS mobile refrigeration engineers. The combination of hands-on experience and professional training will lead them to form a vital part of the cold chain.
We spoke with one of our 2nd year apprentices, Lewis Darrington, who is based out of our depot in Aldridge in the West Midlands, about his experience so far and his plans for the future.
So, let’s start at the beginning Lewis, how did you first hear about apprenticeships?
LD: I originally heard about them through school but the apprenticeship at Marshall I heard about through my Dad because he works at MFS as well. He is the Technical Training Manager for MFS and he was speaking to them about bringing new apprentices on.
We talk about MFS feeling like a family, but it really is a family business in your case. Did you look at any others as well or was it always going to be Marshalls for you?
LD: I never looked at any other companies or other apprenticeships because I always knew I wanted to do this. My dad used to be an engineer himself and he has done it his whole life, since he left school. So, I have never really thought about doing anything else, other than this.
He worked for his uncle who had his own business, but I knew I wanted to start off at a bigger company working on the newest technology. That’s why I wanted to come here because I knew I would get all the right support for the future. I knew MFS did all their training themselves and that the standard of training here would be good.
And at what point in your life did you decide it was definitely the path you wanted to take?
LD: I always wanted to do it, but I never really looked into it in depth until I was picking my GCSE subjects. I picked the subjects that fitted for this sort of industry and knew what grades I needed to get into the apprenticeship. So, I would have been about 14 and I already knew this was what I wanted to do when I left school.
It’s great that you were able to target what you were doing at that age, what subjects did you choose that were relevant?
LD: I only took engineering that was relevant out of the subjects my school offered which, does come in handy sometimes. I did PE and German as well, I am hoping German might be useful one day too if I bump into a foreign driver on one of my call outs.
What appealed to you about joining Marshalls?
LD: When it was time for me to apply my Dad worked for Marshalls, but I remember him working in previous jobs as well and from what I had heard this sounded like a great company to work for. I just got the impression from him when he talked about work that people helped each other out and this seemed more of a friendly place to be.
So that’s how you got into it, let’s talk about the work you have been doing since you joined. What moment have you been most proud of?
LD: Probably when I went on a basic training course and out of everyone in the group, I got the highest score, I got 100%. It wasn’t just other apprentices either there were actual engineers in there who have been doing it much longer than me. So, I was quite happy with the fact I did that.
And then in contrast to that, what about the biggest challenge that you have faced?
LD: Adapting to all of the weather and the rain, whereas in school you’re inside and if it’s raining, you’re not allowed out. So, definitely the weather but at least you’ve got your van you can come and get nice and warm in once you’ve finished your job.
Is there anything else that stands out to you about the work you have been doing, that would be useful for someone thinking about an apprenticeship to know?
LD: I have been able to learn so many new skills and from what my mentor has told me, he is pretty confident in me. He has said he would trust me to do it on my own and just watch and guide me if I need it and he says I have picked it up quite quickly. You get exposed to so many situations and opportunities when you’re on the job.
And how do you find working with a mentor?
LD: If there is ever a situation where I am a bit unsure, I know that if I ask him, he will be straight with me and if I got something wrong, he will tell me. I definitely find it’s better having that one-to-one relationship compared to school.
I much prefer work to school, you hear people say “Oh, I wish I could go back to school”. The only thing I would go back for is the craic with my mates, but I get to do it at the weekend now instead.
So, let’s look to the future, where do you see yourself in five years?
LD: I’d like to be fully qualified. By then hopefully I would have finished my college course and I should have all of my qualifications through that. I would also like to have done either all or most of the Thermo King training courses so that my knowledge of the jobs that I am doing is really developed. I would like to have my own van and potentially be out on my own.
You can tell you have an appetite for learning and it’s paying off. So finally, do you have any advice for people thinking about doing an apprenticeship?
LD: If there is a situation where you can either go to college or do an apprenticeship, I would definitely tell people to go for the apprenticeship because that way, you’re still learning. The main difference for me – but obviously not the whole reason I am doing this because I do love the job – is the fact that you’re earning money and learning at the same time, it feels like a bit of a head start. There aren’t many of my mates that do an apprenticeship, most of them are at college or sixth form and have jobs on the side, but I am working five days a week and earning money for it. I go to college one day a week and I much prefer work to college so doing that five days a week just wouldn’t be right for me. I knew straight away I wanted to go for an apprenticeship over a college course and that it was going to be at Marshall.
We are really grateful to Lewis for speaking to us about his experience and we are looking forward to seeing him, and all of our apprentices, flourish in their careers with MFS.
The MFS Apprenticeship Programme is run through the Marshall Centre in Cambridge, who this year are celebrating 100 years of continued apprenticeships.
Further information about the range of Training and Apprenticeship Programmes provided by Marshall Fleet Solutions through the Marshall Centre can be viewed on our knowledge centre.