|Company:||South Eastern Railway|
Kevin Fewster is a Shift Manager for Levy employer, South Eastern Railway. Kevin has worked for South Eastern for 14 years and was one of the first apprentices who worked with IPS. Kevin talks about the benefits of apprenticeships from a personal and business aspect.
“I was always interested in engineering from a young age due to the people around me working on cars which lead to me knowing I wanted to have a career in engineering. I didn’t start my apprenticeship straight out of school, as I took a stop year, traveling and when I returned I started looking for an apprenticeship and applied for the South-Eastern Railway apprentice vacancy, after seeing it on a local website when I was 18.
I enjoyed my apprenticeship experience. The first year of my apprenticeship was at IPS centre in Medway, learning the mechanical and electronics skills, that is the foundation of my career. I enjoyed learning about electronics, it has progressed me into the more technical aspect I have taken throughout my career.
Having a mix of training was excellent. Instead of spending every minute just studying, which doesn’t work well for me as I don’t learn best from just reading we had the best of both types of training. We could apply practical skills and to see how other people did things, learning new skills by shadowing was helpful. Learners could ask questions, all the IPS trainers were very knowledgeable and supportive, which was a huge benefit in my eyes.
From an apprentice, I moved into a Service Engineer Level 1 position, I enjoyed my time in this role. After a while, I decided I wanted to progress, so I decided to apply for a team-leading role within the company as a Production Delivery Engineer. I had all the qualifications to apply for that role because of my apprenticeship, and I was successful in getting that position. From there I on moved onto the technical route and became a Tech Office Manager at a London depot for three years, I then progressed to taking over two teams, Slade Green and Ramsgate. I have now been a shift manager for a year and a half now, I still love my work, although challenging I now manage people rather than carry out actual engineering, I find it rewarding every day. My progress through differing roles within the company, seeing how depots work, meeting new people has allowed me to see more of the business and I have more knowledge because of it. I feel our future apprentices understand where I have come from and can see there is an opportunity for progression after their apprenticeship.
Ultimately, I feel apprenticeships give the best foundation of a career path because I believe the hand skills for an engineer are just as critical as the academic aspect and it gives you a good balance of the two, so you have an all-round aspect of the job, and that’s what’s needed on the Railway. We now have seven apprentices with IPS and South Eastern Railway as a business, believes apprenticeships are critical to the business’s success as they bring sustainability to the company. Also, the experience of being trained on the job with experienced professionals means you have industry knowledge and a skill set to enable you to hit the ground running within the role once training is achieved. South Eastern Railway works with IPS to establish a strong training delivery which works well.
Having achieved an apprenticeship with IPS I have seen first-hand how it has allowed me to progress throughout my career in engineering, I would recommend IPS, and the support they provide is excellent.