It was in 2010 that Andrew applied for Engineering Technician (EngTech) professional registration. It had been on his mind for a while however a cash incentive the company offered moved it up his priority list.
“As for career prospects, I know that if I was an employer and had to decide between two identical candidates one with EngTech and one without, the one with EngTech would almost certainly get the job as they have been benchmarked by their peers and shown a personal commitment to engineering.”
Andrew, team leader of Royal Mail’s Central Maintenance Repair Workshop, began his career as an apprentice. He believes EngTech professional registration is an important step in helping technicians get the recognition they deserve.
Andrew leads a team of seven repair technicians working in PETRA - Royal Mail's Central Maintenance Repair Workshop. Their role is to provide second line support and repairs for Royal Mail's fleet of 2,000 sorting machines located at over 100 mail centres and mail processing units across the UK.
The team also manages the various external repairs carried out by both original equipment manufacturers and third party suppliers, as well as acting as the interface between Royal Mail and Solystic; the suppliers of their latest sorting machines, for warranty repairs.
“The most enjoyable part of my current role is getting out into mail centres and as part of the central maintenance team carrying out maintenance quality audits,” he explains. “This enables me to meet the mail centre engineering teams who I frequently talk to on the phone.”
Andrew began his engineering career as an apprentice. At the end of secondary school, he didn't know what direction to head in so stayed on at sixth form. However, after a year in the lower sixth, he dropped out of school and started on a BTEC First Certificate in engineering at a local college.
“After a few weeks at college, my grandad gave my an advert that he'd torn out of the local paper, which was looking for electro/mechanical apprentices to join the Post Office Research Centre in Swindon, so I applied and got the job,” he says.
His time as an apprentice was a whirlwind of training courses and placements - he’d spend three months of block release attending college in London with other apprentices from across the country or be working on projects in Swindon’s research workshops.
One of the highlights from his career so far was the end of his apprenticeship where he got to work on the E40.
“It was the latest state-of-the-art letter sorting machine that was totally designed by engineers working at the Post Office Research Centre in Swindon,” he says. “The E40 project involved managing a team of temps who were running test mail through the prototype E40 and analysing jam rates around the various types of diverter blades under test.
“I was brought out of my three year apprenticeship about five months early to provide on-site support for the pre-production E40 that was under trial in Reading Mail Centre whilst the person who normally provided the support was on leave. This has been my most interesting project to date because it was in an age when money was no object and the engineers on the team would take on board the observations of someone newly promoted out of their apprenticeship.”
Between then and now Andrew has been honing his skills within Royal Mail. As the business has changed so has his role, but over this time he’s had the opportunity to work on a number of projects and has travelled the width and breadth of the UK as well as travelling further afield in Europe.
He felt it was important to gain EngTech as it was a way of showing that as a technician he had reached an internationally recognised standard and that he was a professional in his area of engineering, could work in a safe reliable manner and had either supervisory or technical responsibilities.
“I believe that technicians should be highly valued by their employers as generally they are the people within engineering that get their hands dirty and get the work done,” he explains. “They are the people who are hands on building, setting up or repairing things, they also perform tests, collect and analyse data and assist with product development.”
“You’ve been benchmarked, it shows your committed to engineering. I also think [gaining EngTech] has improved my confidence,” he continues. “By having letters after my name I hope people will think I know what I’m talking about.