Georgina Rhodes: level 5 apprentice

Based in Sutton Coldfield, Georgina is a level 5 apprentice, doing her foundation degree in design engineering with Make UK whilst working for Ishida Europe in Woodgate. She hopes to go on to obtain a full bachelor’s degree and one day manage a team of her own.

Ahead of National Apprenticeship Week, here are her thoughts on the need for more education on apprenticeships, particularly for young women in a male-dominated industry: “University was never appealing to me, but it was heavily pushed in school. I struggled looking for alternatives as most people I knew went to university. After going to multiple careers fairs, I began looking into apprenticeships and what they entailed.

“Being an apprentice is the perfect way to go into the working world while continuing your studies. I started at level 2 and have worked my way up to level 5 and I still want to continue learning and growing.

“Make UK has been really supportive throughout my journey. You are never alone, and every new skill learnt links to a previous one.

“Due to COVID, my company implemented a hybrid work schedule, which means I’m lucky enough to be able to do my job from home and continue learning despite the pandemic. At the moment, I rotate between one week in the office and one week at home which works well.

“COVID was a really scary and unsettling time, but both Make UK and my employer were great at keeping everyone informed and updating us regularly, which made the situation a lot less challenging and meant I was confident my career wouldn’t be affected.

“I work in the design engineering section of the business, but I also get to experience working in other departments and learn how each part of the company affects the others. I enjoy how varied my day to day is, and that I work with a broad and diverse group of colleagues.

“There’s so many opportunities for development as an apprentice. You’re always learning something new. I’ve been able to progress both personally and professionally in a way I don’t think I would have if I had gone to university.

“My proudest achievement was being interviewed on BBC Breakfast to represent female apprentices on a national level. We discussed women in engineering and how young women are breaking barriers and stereotypes in a male-dominated industry. I never had a female engineering role model, so it is important to me to be that for young women who might not otherwise consider engineering a viable career path.

“I am signed up with Women in Science and Engineering (WiSE) to help promote more diversity in the industry. I also take part in recruitment events and reach out to students and parents to provide as much information as I can to help them make the right decision for their futures. I don’t want others to struggle the way I did to find the pathway that suits their needs — university isn’t for everyone.

“I think it’s really important to provide information to parents as well as young people because they can be a big influence on their child’s future. It’s important to break the stigma that comes with being an apprentice and highlight all the benefits and experiences you can gain.

“My ultimate goal is to lead an engineering team of my own. As a manager, I could offer work experience days or weeks to show a diverse group of young people what the industry has to offer.

“A supportive work culture is highly important to stay productive and I’m lucky to have a positive team morale. It makes coming to work enjoyable knowing that you have a good working relationship with those around you.”