National Apprenticeship Week Banner

A Week in the Life of an Apprentice

Introduction

We will be shining a light on our all of apprentices this week in aid of National Apprenticeship Week, first up it’s one of our Electrical Apprentices, Harry.

Harry has been with us for a year now and is currently in his fourth of his apprenticeship. As ever, with being an apprentice, no week is the same and this is just a short snippet of what Harry gets up to as an electrical apprentice the Remark Group.

A little fun fact about Harry is that he absolutely loves mince pies,  in his own words; “Superman has kryptonite, Spiderman has Mary Jane and what is my weakness? MINCE PIES, there is literally NOTHING I wouldn’t do for a mince pie so delicious!”

Electrical Apprentice

Monday

Monday starts with a little bit of a difference from the week to week jobs, as this week the job at hand is far from home in Stafford and also night shifts! It is rather enjoyable traveling the country and seeing different places and it’s not a bonus that comes with most career opportunities.

The day starts promptly at 11AM to load the van with all the possible bits and pieces we might need, slightly resembling a game of Tetris, Aaron and I load the van top to bottom ready for the weeks work. A mere two and a half hours later we arrive at our destination, the first port of call is signing in at security to meet our site host and acquire all relevant paperwork and permits ready for the job ahead.

I find forward planning is always the best course of action to take when starting a project, so we walk the route we wish to take from the network cabinet to the final destination of the new network points we are to install. Once we are confident of how to progress, we proceed to barrier off the area we are working in (as we are working at height and do not wish to have any potential risks of anyone being injured below). With a previous briefing with the project manager we knew that the finishing shift time in the factory was 16:30 so this was optimal timing for us to set up boxes of cables ready to be installed.

The run was essentially in the shape of a ‘T’ so we thought best to pull the cables from the apex and back feed the rest of the run; we proceed to pull the first bunch of cables and manage to get them to their destination ready to be continued with the next day.

Tuesday

Today we started at 15:30 on site, ready to liaise with site maintenance. With health and safety in mind working at height, we required some live overhead cranes to be isolated to continue with works. Working closely with the maintenance team and our site host we proceed to make the area safe with multiple isolations in place to continue our runs, once isolation was completed, we continued where we left off with pulling in the other bunch of cables.

Like with all runs it can be rather challenging as you need a large area to work with to run your cables out to ensure they do not get damaged or tangled, working as a team and with great communication between one and another we are able to make great progress, however we encounter a rather critical problem with the MEWP.

Suddenly, we lose power at a drastic rate. This forced us to stop work and to put it on charge, as currently the brunt of the job is at high level and we cannot progress further. A quick coffee and a few emails to notify the project manager of our predicament we continue with work laying our cables into the containment above. We manage to secure all relevant cables to their final destination making it safe for everyone to start work in the morning.

Wednesday

We pick up where we left off; using flexible conduit to offer our cables greater mechanical protection and to stop interference with magnetic fields caused by power cables running adjacent to ours, we finally drop our cables to their final destination to the work benches below.

There are four cables per desk and a total of 12 drops to complete, with repetitive work it is important not to get to complacent as this can lead to mistakes. We double check with our site host that they are happy with the progress so far, giving us a boost of confidence to move on to the termination of both ends of the cable.

Great care and attention is taken when working within the confides of the cabinet as fibre cables are very fragile and any break could open a whole can of worms! Working as a team we carefully manoeuvre the cables into a secure position and punch down the cables onto the panel. We continue to work in unison following up after one another, one fixing the boxes and the other terminating the modules, this was by far the most challenging part of my week!

What made it so difficult was the size of the cupboards we had to work in; just wide enough to squeeze your shoulders in but deep enough to venture in head to knee, with such a small working area this makes what is normal a very simple task seem nearly impossible! It was extremely testing on my own personal morale (that fact that it is early hours of the morning doesn’t help!). However, this is what I find working in a team so rewarding, talking to one another sharing past experiences to find new ways to tackle different challenges.

With the brunt of the job completed this just leaves us to test and label our cables to ensure they are fit for purpose and can be easily identified for any future use. A quick tidy up and then we are ready to get our site host to see if they were satisfied with the job and if they had any questions for us.

Thursday

With this week’s job being time critical and working the night shifts, we had a late checkout at our hotel and a rest day so we could recuperate ready for a fresh start on Friday. After checkout we made our way back to the yard to unload the van of materials and waste, debriefed with the project managers and headed home for a well-deserved rest.

Friday

Today is day release, when the apprentices attend college. Our morning consists of system design and technology, this gives us a greater understanding of the how’s and whys of what we do on a daily basis at work. It consists of different equations to determine cables sizes needed for different lengths of runs and load that’s needed, how bright a room will be after you install whichever lights you will be using. It is extremely interesting and personally rewarding when you can merge what you learn in the class room to what you do on site.

In the afternoon we have a more practical stance on learning with fault finding. It is just as important to know how to find and rectify faults with older installs as well as having the know-how with new fresh installs. I have a good understanding of testing so find this subject very enjoyable. It is very satisfying knowing you can determine a fault and then continue on to fix it!

It’s good to speak to the other students as many of us all come from different sectors of the industry and it gives us a chance to learn about things that we might not necessarily come across on a day to day basis, we often speak of different challenges we have encountered or new products we have come across all of which improves our learning environment.

Stay tuned for our next Week in the Life tomorrow with our apprentice, Liam.