Nearing the completion of his NVQ in Mechanical Engineering at college, Stephan was weighing up options when he met Bri-Stor Group Apprenticeship Manager Will Davies-Hill, as he tells us: “I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do after completion of my NVQ but when Will visited my college and told us about the opportunities at Bri-Stor Group as an Apprentice I was really intrigued.”

Stephan took part in the Bri-Stor Group Open Day and was struck by the scale and professionalism of the business.  Immediately drawn to the manufacturing capabilities of Alpha, Stephan applied to join as an Apprentice in 2019.  Stephan tells us more: “We got the opportunity to see all the manufacturing equipment in action and I was really impressed by the Stopa and in particular the Bend Cell – seeing the huge levels of automation really changed my perception of sheet metal fabrication.  I think in my mind I was picturing a dirty workshop with a few bits of kit but Alpha couldn’t be further away from that perception – it’s a world-class business and as a consequence we’re involved in the manufacture and production of some pretty impressive fabricated products.”

Stephan really enjoyed year one and although there is a lot of classroom time at The JCB Academy, the relaxed, informal approach to teaching was perfect for Stephan’s learning style, as he expands: “we learnt a lot in year one but it didn’t feel like learning.  The tutors really respect the fact that we’re working guys, not kids, and that makes such a difference.”

In year two the Apprentices are part of the Rotation Programme and get the opportunity to experience every operational function in the business. “I’m enjoying some departments and process areas more than others, but that’s what this is all about – seeing what you like, and how that matches up to your skills,” explains Stephan.  “By being part of every function in the business, regardless of how much you like it, you can see the total process which is important.  Understanding the impact of one process on another dramatically improves efficiency and removes mistakes.”

Would you recommend the Alpha Manufacturing Apprenticeship Scheme?  “It’s a tough world right now and I feel secure in my role at Alpha.  I know the business is successful and being part of the Bri-Stor Group gives me huge confidence that I can pursue my career here and hopefully continue to gain higher qualifications.”

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