Siemens Digital Factory Process Industries and Drives (DF PD) launched its advanced level apprenticeship back in 2010. It is designed to give apprentices a rotational placement experience where they get exposure to different engineering aspects of the business including technical support, field service and project engineering .They also get to experience aspects of customer services including internal sales and order processing.
The calibre of the apprentices led the company to add to the scheme and also offer a higher apprenticeship. And having received approval from the IET, apprentices that complete either scheme are now in a position to apply for Engineering Technician (EngTech) and/or ICT Technician (ICTTech) professional registration.
What a Siemens DF PD apprenticeship entails
The first nine months of the apprenticeship are spent at a partner college where apprentices work towards completing an NVQ in performing engineering operations. They also undertake their technical certificate training one day a week, which goes towards their final qualification.
After these nine months apprentices then embark upon a year of short duration placements, typically between two and six weeks in length. These are in both technical and non-technical departments to gain an idea of how the Siemens businesses operate and integrate. During this second year they also begin their NVQ workplace training and assessment and attend college on day release to complete their technical certificate.
“From a work point of view, apprentices become involved in all aspects of our business from putting together sales proposals, specifying components for customer projects, building control panels and demonstrating equipment to customers through to commissioning alongside field service professionals and dealing with customer technical issues. We also target our apprentices to get involved in outside activities such as promoting engineering careers and participating in community projects. During the scheme, apprentices become members of the IET and register as STEM ambassadors,” says Jason Phin, Siemens Training Consultant and DF Apprentice Scheme Coordinator.
“As part of the training undertaken by our apprentices, we embed our SITRAIN training courses in PLC programming, configuration of automation networks, drives and HMI configuration into our programme. We also commit to providing a zero harm culture and safety training is also mandated,” he adds.
The third year of the apprenticeship is spent completing fewer, but longer placements in the technical areas of the business and it's during this time that the apprentices will start to form an idea of which job role would appeal to them.
“We sit down with each apprentice towards the end of the third year to identify their strengths," says Phin. "We listen to what they have to say in regards choosing a final, year-long placement in an area that will hopefully become their full-time junior role when they graduate from the scheme."
The Siemens DF PD advanced apprenticeship leads to a BTEC Level 3 qualification in electrical and electronic engineering for the advanced apprentices and for the higher apprentices, a HND in electrical and electronic engineering.
However, Siemens also offers advanced apprentices the opportunity to study a HNC, which would be completed by the time they graduate from the scheme, and is working to further develop its degree offering.
“We are currently working with Salford University to add the option of degree attainment for our higher apprentices that not only combines block release to complete several modules of academic study but also to integrate our Siemens Certified Programmer accreditation to account for forty credits of this degree,” highlights Phin.
“Along with a project that can be completed in the workplace, we can account for two thirds of this degree provision giving us a say in the skills that we can provide for our apprentices relevant to our requirements. We see this as vital component in our schemes to give us ‘industry-ready’ apprentices. Hopefully once accreditation of our program has been achieved – we are looking to start this provision from September 2017 – then we would be more than happy to offer this service to other university programmes to contribute more ‘industry value’ to academic study,” he notes.
Benefits of the Siemens DF PD apprenticeships
Working for an international company like Siemens offers great opportunities for development and diversity in job roles and locations as well as competitive salaries, a pension scheme, company share scheme and 25 days holiday.
“I believe this makes us one of the best employers to work for,” says Phin. “We also recognise our apprentices at the end of their time with a graduation ceremony attended by senior management, placement managers, mentors and most importantly, their parents. Last year’s event was held underneath the wings of Concorde!”
What Siemens DF PD looks for in an apprentice
For entry onto the advanced apprenticeship scheme Siemens looks for A-C GCSE passes in five subjects including maths, English, physics and ICT. For the higher apprenticeship it looks for two A level passes in maths or physics plus one other, or a BTEC Level 3 qualification in engineering disciplines.
“Irrespective of the academic requirement we are looking for people who relish a challenge, love problem-solving and want to contribute to a dynamic organisation,” Phin says.
“Work experience in either engineering or customer-focused job roles can be of great benefit to us, as well as participating in awards like the Duke of Edinburgh scheme or being members of youth organisations such as the Scouts and Guides. This is because that shows us a commitment to community, something we are very strong in supporting through our corporate social responsibility commitment,” he notes.
Find out more about the Siemens DF PD apprenticeship schemes.