When 19-year-old Olivia McLaughlin finished her A-Levels in Chemistry, Design Technology and Maths, she knew exactly what career path she wanted to take.

Whilst many would have plumped for the university life, the former Newport Girls High pupil had a different train of thought, preferring to throw herself into an apprenticeship that would naturally appeal to her ‘practical side’.

It has been a wise move, with the 19-year-old already snapped up by Rheinmetall BAE Systems Land (RBSL) and currently undertaking a Level 4 Manufacturing Engineering Apprenticeship at In-Comm Training.

Equivalent to an HNC, this involves four days of hands-on experience in the design and manufacturing operations of RBSL and then one day per week of theoretical learning at the training provider’s state-of-the-art facility in Telford.

“My dad was an engineer and I’ve always thrown myself into fixing things around the home, so a career in industry seemed a natural choice” explained Olivia.

“Tracey Wells, my Design Technology teacher, has also been an inspiration and when I was nervous about the prospect of working in a male dominated industry, she told me to just go for it as she knew I was more than good enough to hold my own.”

She went on to add: “I absolutely love my apprenticeship and the unique blend of being able to learn in the classroom and immediately apply it to a real-world manufacturing environment. The fact you get paid and a job with a global business at the end of it is the icing on the cake.”

Olivia’s long-term goal is to become a design engineer and, following her Level 4 course, there is a pathway in place for her to secure her degree.

She has already worked in RBSL’s purchasing department and, as part of the company’s rotational policy to experience all parts of the business, she is now working in design.

Olivia concluded: “I genuinely believe going down the vocational learning route will fast-track my career.

“By the time I gain a degree, I will have seven years’ experience of manufacturing under my belt and that has got to give me an advantage over someone who has only ever applied what they’ve learned in hypothetical situations. I also will not have the massive student debt hanging over me.”

In Comm Training and Business Services