GOV.UK speak to Jenny Hawkins, Quality Control Manager at Kesslers International, on how her apprenticeship was the catalyst for a highly skilled, fulfilling career.
Jenny Hawkins, from London, undertook an advanced apprenticeship in Polymer Processing in 1995, at the age of 19. Twenty years on, she is a quality assurance manager at design and manufacturing company Kesslers International Ltd, where she completed her apprenticeship.
After achieving GCSEs and A-Levels, Jenny was working for Kesslers on an assembly line for plastic components, when an apprenticeship opportunity came up: “I had an interest in knowing how the parts worked and a head for mechanics so I went for it,” she explains.
Jenny successfully passed testing and interviews to be accepted onto her apprenticeship. While studying for an ONC in Polymer Processing and an HNC in Polymer Engineering with the University of North London, she worked as an apprentice setter, preparing moulds and injecting them with melted plastic.
As an apprentice, Jenny worked closely with experienced technicians. “There are things you don’t learn from books – sometimes you need someone who’s been around the block to teach you,” she says.
In 1999, Jenny finished her apprenticeship and moved onto a full time position as an injection moulding Senior Setter then Senior Technician for several years before accepting a senior position overseas in Australia. On her return, Kesslers approached her to take on a role in quality. She jumped at the chance and is now the Quality Assurance Manager, a position which has huge influence on how things are designed and manufactured. It is a role she finds fascinating and enjoys the ability to change things for the better;
“In quality assurance you investigate problems and teach others to be able to avoid them, putting systems in place to create an environment where you limit the chances of failure. You have to look at things from every angle and you need to be able to suggest solutions,” she explains. “It’s different every day, there’s always something new and interesting to look at.”
Jenny credits her apprenticeship with providing the building blocks for her career: “My background in injection moulding definitely helped me get this job by teaching me the skills needed to solve problems and issues as well as how to implement change and improvements – so my apprenticeship has done me no end of good.”
Because the company has invested so much in her career, Jenny plans to stay at Kesslers and progress in her quality assurance role. Her handbook about injection moulding, which she produced as part of her HNC, is still being used by Kesslers’ new apprentices.
“I would recommend an apprenticeship to any young person, especially if they’re at a crossroads,” says Jenny. “It can only be beneficial – with the knowledge and skills you gain, doing an apprenticeship improves your chances and gives you a platform to build a career on.”
To find out more about apprenticeship opportunities, please contact the National Apprenticeship Service on 08000 150 600 or visit the website apprenticeships.gov.uk
Article Source: GOV.UK