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Toyota Degree Level Apprentice and WorldSkills UK Skills Champion

Friday, 25 Aug 2017

Robyn Clarke, Skills Champion

I took up my apprenticeship at 18 years of age after 14 GCSEs and three A-levels. After my A-levels I was not sure how I wanted to progress into a career so I began doing some research.

I achieved good results in science and maths at GCSE, and was a logical thinker. I also liked the idea of working in a practical environment which gives me a mix between hands-on and academic learning. Naturally I looked into the different types of apprenticeships that could offer me this learning style.

Throughout my A-levels I was taken out of class to go to special sessions on applying for university, but there was no information provided by my school about apprenticeships.  So I relied heavily on word of mouth and contacting local businesses to find my apprenticeship.

The Skills Show on 16-18 November in Birmingham is a good place to find information on apprenticeships and other training opportunities. I would definitely recommend going along to talk to some of the leading organisations exhibiting there and getting involved with the Have a Go activities and Spotlight talks to find out what might be a good career choice for you.

Toyota was a local employer where I grew up in the East Midlands and this is where I enrolled on to my apprenticeship. My dad worked there so he was very supportive and pleased that I had chosen an apprenticeship rather than going to university just because I got good grades. Leaving school and entering straight into a working environment made me more mature and independent.

I had some funny looks when I told people that I was doing an engineering apprenticeship. It seems that there is still some stereotyping about what is a man’s role and what is a woman’s role. But there is no reason to limit your options because you’re a woman, your career choice should be down to your skillsets and abilities.

I would definitely recommend apprenticeships. Most people are shocked to find how diverse and broad ranging modern apprenticeships can be. There’s something for everyone and as an added bonus you can earn while you learn! The majority of apprenticeships also have direct routes into jobs within the business and they all leave you with qualifications in your chosen field.

I started my first four year apprenticeship in maintenance engineering in September 2011. After completion I was promoted to a maintenance technician role within Toyota. This September I start my Higher Apprenticeship with Toyota where I will be working towards an Honours Degree in Mechanical Engineering. Following completion I will be promoted into an engineer within the Quality Assurance Division.

Apprenticeships give you a definite sense of achievement. The skills that I learn in the classroom environment I get to put to use each day in my job role. This was something that I found frustrating within school, as there were many subjects that I found interesting but I never had the opportunity to use the theory outside of the classroom.

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