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did you serve a traditional trade apprenticeship?.


algy
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How many of you served a traditional trade apprenticeship resulting in you achieving:-

1. An interesting introduction to your working life.

2. A direct influence on where you are today.

3. do you feel that it was a complete waste of your time.

 

I served a 6 year indentured apprenticeship as a Blacksmith/Farrier & Agricultural Engineer in a smithy in a small Cheshire village. On completing my apprenticeship at the age of 21 I decided not to continue in that trade and moved into industry as a maintenance fitter believing at that time that I had wasted six years of my life repairing farm machinery, sweating over a hot forge fire and at 10stone 7 lbs struggling to shoe shire horses and hunters outside in freezing winter conditions, what I did not appreciate is the experience and diversity of trade skills that I had learned would be invaluable in what would happen to me in my later working life, so looking back I am more than satisfied with my time spent in my apprenticeship.

 

Please share your experiences as I am sure it will be interesting to all.

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I did an apprenticeship as a mechanical engineer although over the years my work has involved quite a few major changes in direction. Back in the early sixties, it was a time of full employment and with labour in such demand, businesses would actually approach the schools looking for apprentices and I was one such case.

 

At the age of sixteen, family circumstances meant I was the bread earner so the academic route wasn’t really an option. Aside from that, I just wasn’t sure what I wanted as a career but before I knew what hit me, I was hijacked and placed in front of a drawing board in an engineering company. This was all a bit odd because while I was quite good at the old technical drawing, I absolutely hated metalwork and here I was surrounded by all manner of metalworking.

 

I served my apprenticeship and did fairly well with my day release college work but shortly after, the business went into decline and I along with all the others got made redundant. But for this I might have been working there now but instead decided to have a complete change of direction and start over with a new a career in electronics. It was hard work and involved reduced pay and lots of reading up on stuff I didn’t know but it came good in the end.

 

I found myself telling this story to several young people who like me were unsure about their choice of careers. It can be done and its never too late to change provided you have the will and determination to see it through.

 

Anyway enough waffle from me, I need to literally get back on the drawing board now and finish the tooling drawings for a new product I’m working on! 8)

 

Bill :)

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Bill and I have a similar back ground. I started a five year engineering apprenticeship at Brit. Aluminum in 1955. It covered spells in the Tool Room, periods on maintenance and a stretch in the Drawing Office. It was all covered in a multi-page legal contract signed by my father and the Company. I too had day release plus three nights, seven 'til ten, at Long Lane and the High School. As soon as I came out of my apprenticeship, I used my National Certificate to get a job in a drawing office in Manchester. Several years later, with a partner, I started and ran a engineering design company, followed by a piping construction company employing a hundred plus fitters and welders. Sold out and went to the States in 1976 and used my UK credentials to go to University and got my BSc Mech. Eng.

I only relate this to hopefully show some younger folk that you can start work in greasy coveralls and hobnailed boots and still, with a little effort, end up with something better. Funny thing is that now I'm retired, I'm never happier than when I'm in my greasy coveralls and hobnailed boots !!!!!!

Last point. I was told once on this forum, that that kind of progress is no longer possible in the UK - I surely hope that's wrong.

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Bill & Stallard, it seems that we were all blessed with being born in the early 1940's (1940 myself) as by the early 1960's we had finished serving our time and the UK had an engineering industry that was thriving, similar to yourselves I had the minimum qualifications and continued my employment working 'on the tools', I joined ICI in 1967 and progressively worked my way up the ladder to finish my employment with them as an overhauls manager with ICI's North West Engineering Planning & Overhauls group, again like you two gents I'mnot 'blowing my own trumpet' as at that time you really didn't need a piece of paper to progress as long as you were willing and capable, however Stallard to answer your question regarding 'can you do the same today' the answer is a definite NO! for one thing I don't believe that we have any major engineering companies operating in the UK and what we have are owned by foreign investors, and secondly if you don't come out of university with a top degree you will be lucky to get a job stacking shelves in a supermarket. It's a sad world we are living in and not wishing to sound a pessimist but I really do despair for the youngsters and unless something really does change dramatically for the better I can only see society sinking into the depths of depression.

On that happy note and to answer my own question regarding this topic yes I do feel blessed at having a wonderful and happy apprenticeship.

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Amazing ain't it - apparently all apprentices are verbose or maybe full of s... !!!! The company that took me out of the workshop, was Mather & Platt in Manchester, it was a vast engineering company making large pumps, sprinkler installations plus marine work. There were vast workshops, a full service forge with pattern shops, humongous warehouses and a three story office block. To illustrate your point about these companies, I recently took a look at the factory site in Miles Platting and there is absolutely nothing there. It's just a large open grassy area with just the faint outlines of the building's foundations showing. When I was there, there would be twenty Mnchester City busses lined up at the main gate, just to carry the office workers home at quitting time. They also had factories in Calcutta and Bombay. I actually looked for them because I intended to send them a thankyou note for giving me my first chance. Quite a shock to see that gargantuan reduced to a shadow.

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I did my apprentiship at the U.K.E.A at rilsey and was originally slated to be a mechanical engineering draftsman.

 

There was no opening for me there so i ended up as a fitter machinist at the nuclear physics lab at daresbury.

 

Over the years I taught myself to use computers and eventually ended up as the projects office. Not working as part of the project office but the whole of the projects office.

 

After that I had a spell as a forcourt attendant/shop assistant and am currently a passenger assistant on school runs for wheelchair bound passengers.

 

What it has done is give me the confidence in my own ability to tackle any job that comes along, from plumbing water in to wiring sockets or welding. (not that I am a good welder but so far my gates haven't fallen apart.)

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Algy, I was going to ask you that. Seems a long time ago since it was a Smithy.

 

Not exactly an apprenticeship, but my formative years and hence my work ethic were spent on the land. Some-one from the British Aluminium showed me there wage slip once, and it was bye bye farming and hello industry. Believe you me, they years on the farm made Aluminium Extrusion at Latchford Locks a lot easier. The spent the last 23 years at a Chemical holiday camp called Laportes who I am grateful to for my Pension. :wink:

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Algy, I was going to ask you that. Seems a long time ago since it was a Smithy.

 

Not exactly an apprenticeship, but my formative years and hence my work ethic were spent on the land. Some-one from the British Aluminium showed me there wage slip once, and it was bye bye farming and hello industry. Believe you me, they years on the farm made Aluminium Extrusion at Latchford Locks a lot easier. The spent the last 23 years at a Chemical holiday camp called Laportes who I am grateful to for my Pension. :wink:

Peter, my son works at the same site, Solvay now, he's on maintenance and served his apprenticeship under the Laporte banner, I have a long association with the company as my father was one of the longest serving on the site (in his time) as he started there when it was a building site back in 1950, we lived at No.7 baronet road for many years and left there when I got married in 1962.

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I had a 4 year cadetship in the Merchant Navy, 1967 to 1971, and ended up as a qualified deck officer. 44 years down the line I'm still here but in a very different industry. I saw a bit of the world and for the most part it's been an enjoyable experience. :wink::wink::wink:

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Algy said

 

If you don't come out of university with a top degree you will be lucky to get a job stacking shelves in a supermarket.

And I say there’s nothing wrong with that because in my experience, far too many come out holding a piece of paper that they think automatically guarantees them an above average wage. I used to tell these people that their degree is only a piece of paper that tells me that in theory, they should be capable of doing a job but if they can’t apply what they’ve been taught, then they may as well go and stack shelves. :shock:

 

Some of today’s companies rely far too heavily on university graduates and as a result, they don’t benefit from the diversity and hands on experience the traditional apprenticeship used to offer. Again in my experience, those “graduating” from an apprenticeship seemed to have a different work ethic. Personally I think none academics often want to prove that they’re just as good as those with a degree and as a result, they’re usually more willing and easy to work with.

 

Maybe with the increased tuition fees, we might see some kind of return to apprenticeships but I suspect that if we do, it would be a very different sort of system than we had in the past.

 

BTW Algy, Don't put too many years on me, it destroys my street cred. :wink: I'm a child of the fifties not the forties.

 

Bill :)

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Morning Bill! looks like you and I are both early risers, personally it's a habit I could never shake I have been retired (for the second time now) for six years and can't shake the habit of getting up early, best part of the day. My point about youngsters with degrees having to take jobs shelf stacking wasn't meant in a derogatory way, merely that they work very hard ploughing there way through university to obtain a degree only to find there are no jobs for them in their chosen field whereas we could start at a lowly level and opportunities were there to be taken to enable our self betterment.

By the way don't worry about your street cred' mate driving the motors you seem to drive and the lovely young lady that featured in the racing garage you have no problems my friend. :wink:

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I wish! :P

 

No what I was getting at I suppose is the fact that these days a lot see university as being the only possible route to a better job. I know there aren’t that many apprenticeships about but that’s not to say people still can’t do well especially those that seem to develop skills later in life. Can’t all be instant rocket scientist can we.

 

Anyway I’ve been sitting here at work since 4:15 so need to get back on my head and do a bit before the phone starts ringing. :(

 

Bill :)

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Stallard spent many a happy hour wandering around those tunnels whilst finishing up my apprentiship in 1978. Was a great place for a skive off as they were being decommisioned to make way for the new ring they were installing, you could spend hours hiding away down there from the foreman. One off my jobs was to burn the reinforcing from the concrete pillars after the contractors had chiseled away the concrete. at the time it seemed a bit like painting the forth bridge,as they were on the other side off the ring and so it was round and round until they were down to ground level.

 

Oncve that job was finished, along with my apprentiship, I was taken on by daresbury and sent to the tower to work on installing and maintaining the van de graff there.

 

As far as I know the deionising plant is still happily chugging away, filled many a car battery in its time as well, probably.

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So it's all gone now Sid? It was a major design issue, to roll all of that 10" and 12" CW pipe, including the copper, prefabricated to just bolt into position.

Bill makes a good point, by the time I was designing petro-chem piping installations, I already had five years of hanging pipe and fitting pumps behind me. I made damn sure that none of my designs created installation or operating problems - you never had to to look far to find an isolation valve. Too many times I had to shut half of the factory down to change out six feet of leaking steam line.

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