Apprentice Case Studies

Below you can read the stories of some of our current and former apprentices. For more information about the scheme, visit our Apprenticeship Scheme page.

First Year

In your first year you take a hands-on approach to learning manufacturing and engineering principles in our training facility.

Daniel Lewis
Daniel is currently learning the principles of milling and turning, as well as how to operate the manual machines, in Reliance’s accredited training facility. Alongside this, he is developing his technical drawing skills and analysing existing drawings. This allows him to create a work plan detailing his approach to manufacturing the components. All of this is done with support and guidance from his team leader and fellow apprentices. He also attends college one day a week to study a Level 2 Diploma in Advanced Manufacturing Engineering.

Read Daniel's story

Daniel applied for the Reliance Precision Apprenticeship Scheme whilst he was studying for his GCSEs at school. He knew he wanted a career in engineering but wasn’t keen to continue in full-time education. As a more practical, hands-on, person he decided an apprenticeship might suit him better as it would provide the opportunity to build a career whilst working. He learnt about Reliance’s apprenticeship scheme from a friend who had previously undertaken a school work experience placement at the company. He then did some online research to understand more about Reliance and was fascinated with the intricate nature of the products they manufactured. He also discovered the different sectors and industries they serve and concluded this could result in a variety of interesting work. Whilst Daniel applied for a number of different company apprenticeships, the Reliance scheme was the one he really wanted.

He explains “The application process was quite tough, but everyone involved at Reliance was really friendly and welcoming. They were genuinely interested in finding out about me and my interests. I was absolutely delighted when I received the call to say I had been successful.”

Now in the first year of his apprenticeship, Daniel is learning the principles of milling and turning as well as how to operate the manual machines in Reliance’s accredited training facility. Alongside this, he is developing his technical drawing skills and analysing existing drawings. This allows him to create a work plan detailing his approach to manufacturing the components. Daniel and the other first year apprentices work together in a dedicated space within the training facility, guided and supported by their team leader and fellow apprentices.

As part of his apprenticeship he attends Kirklees College one day a week to study the Level 2 Diploma in Advanced Manufacturing Engineering. This consists of attending lectures, undertaking coursework and completing ongoing assignments and assessments. Daniel explains “The theory I am learning at college and the work I am doing here at Reliance are really well aligned. College is definitely helping to support my practical training.”

He concludes “I am really enjoying my apprenticeship at Reliance. I would highly recommend it as an option for anyone who wants to become an engineer but is not keen on full-time education. I love the practical side and how I can learn whilst being hands-on. The technology at Reliance is constantly evolving, and I want to develop my skills and knowledge to reflect this. I want to become the best engineer I can, and I already have my sights set on becoming a team leader.”

Second Year

The second year is your chance to experience working in different departments across manufacturing and the wider company.

Alexandra Gallagher-Wild
Alexandra is currently spending time in different departments across the business learning the core skills of each. She also attends college one day a week. Having completed a month in Milling and one in Turning, she moved into the Apprentice Training Facility to provide support and guidance to the first-year apprentices. She is now working in the Cleanroom where she is assembling products and carrying out air-leak testing.
Read Alexandra's story

When Alexandra was studying for her GCSEs at school, she had no idea what she wanted to do afterwards. She had been exposed to engineering from a young age through her Grandad and Great Grandad, and also through her activities as an army cadet. Alexandra was concerned that she might not be academically strong enough for engineering and so she started looking at apprenticeships in other industries. However, she was still very interested in mechanical engineering, so when a family friend recommended the Reliance Precision Apprenticeship Scheme, Alexandra decided to arrange a visit to the company to find out more.

She explains “Everyone I met on my tour around the business was so friendly and welcoming. I remember being completely surprised by the cleanliness of the production department. I had not seen anything like it before. I thought that an engineering company would be a dirty environment.” The team at Reliance encouraged Alexandra to apply to the apprentice scheme and, after completing the application and interview process, she successfully secured a place.

Alexandra was one of six students who started the four-year scheme in her year group. Her time at Reliance began with her learning how to operate the machines, combined with writing up notes on the processes and methods to demonstrate evidence of her learning. She also helped out in Metrology, gaining exposure to the science and technology used, as well as attending college to study for her Level 2 Diploma in Advanced Manufacturing Engineering.

Now in the second year of her apprenticeship Alexandra is currently spending time in different departments across the business learning the core skills of each. She also attends college one day a week. Having completed a month in milling and one in turning, she moved into the Apprentice Training Facility to provide support and guidance to the first-year apprentices. She is now working in the Cleanroom where she is assembling products and carrying out air-leak testing.

Alexandra comments “I am really enjoying the second year of my apprenticeship. Moving out of the training facility and into the company’s production area makes you feel like you are contributing to the business because you are actually working on orders for customers. I also feel like my college work is being put into practice in a more meaningful way.”

Already having thoughts about her future, Alexandra is considering either remaining in manufacturing or moving into Design Engineering. She definitely wants to continue with her studies and would consider doing an engineering degree, providing she can secure sponsorship. She explains “Reliance is one of a kind. The company invests in its apprentices and everyone is very supportive. I have been encouraged to attend careers fairs to talk to people considering the apprenticeship scheme. I also recently had the opportunity to be part of the team managing a conferencing event hosted by Reliance in Cambridge. I would certainly encourage anyone with an interest in engineering to apply for the apprenticeship scheme. It has definitely set me on the right path.”

Third Year

In your third year you begin to specialise in one particular department. You will develop your skills throughout the year in this area.

Zak Bell
Zak is specialising in the Tool Room for the remainder of his apprenticeship. He works as part of the team programming and operating the machines to make the tools that are required for production. As part of his role, he also gets the opportunity to work on trials of new products and new machining methods. He enjoys the variety of what he does and how he is exposed to the full process from writing a programme through to the manufacture of a component.

Read Zak's story

Zak was twenty years old when he applied to the Reliance Precision Apprenticeship Scheme. At the time he had completed his A Levels, gained a diploma in Dance, and was working part time in a pub. He was unsure of what he wanted to do next but he had an interest in engineering stemming from family influences in his childhood, so decided to visit an apprenticeship event at the John Smith’s Stadium in Huddersfield. It was here that he was introduced to Reliance and their apprenticeship scheme. After speaking to the team there, he decided to apply.

He remembers enjoying the application process. “I met lots of really great people throughout the different stages of the process. The interview with the Senior Management Team was the most daunting part, but they were very friendly and completely put me at ease. At the end of the process I knew I really wanted to work at Reliance, so was over the moon when I received the email advising I had been successful.”

Zak recalls that his year’s intake of apprentices became a close-knit team fairly quickly, providing each other with constant support. He admits that initially he found the learning curve to be quite steep, but felt that the amount he learnt, even in just that first year, was phenomenal.
In his second year he moved into production, learning the core skills from the trained manufacturing engineers in each department. He also spent some time working in the office with the Sales team.

Now in his third year, Zak is specialising in the Tool Room for the remainder of his apprenticeship. He works as part of the team programming and operating the machines to make the tools that are required for production. As part of his role, he also gets the opportunity to work on trials of new products and new machining methods. He explains “I am really enjoying my time in the Tool Room. I have definitely made the right choice of where to specialise. Working here I get to understand the whole process, from writing a program through to manufacture. I am constantly learning and honing my skills for the future.”

In terms of his future, Zak is open minded, but keen to understand the opportunities available to him when he graduates. He is a strong advocate of Reliance’s apprenticeship scheme, encouraging anyone with an interest in engineering and wanting to learn more about how things are made, to apply.

Fourth Year

Your fourth year allows you to gain further knowledge and practical experience in your specialist area.

Vineet Negi
Vineet is spending the final year of his apprenticeship working with Reliance’s Standard Products sales team. His role entails communicating with customers from all over the world to understand the issue or problem they are looking to resolve. From the information he gathers he works with the team to determine the solution Reliance can offer. This is where the previous three years of his apprenticeship have really helped. Having spent time working in all departments, he has a good understanding of the capabilities of each. Vineet has also spent time at the company’s facility in Ireland where a number of Reliance’s standard products are manufactured.

Read Vineet's story

Vineet first decided he wanted to become an engineer when he was at primary school. He puts this down to his inquisitive mind always wanting to know how things work. While studying for his GCSEs he was told about the Reliance Precision Apprenticeship Scheme by a teacher at school and also by a family friend who knew someone on the scheme at the time. He did some research online to find out more about Reliance, the type of engineering they did, and the details of the scheme. Impressed with what he learnt, he decided to apply.

After successfully securing a place, he began learning core engineering skills. During that first year, Vineet was identified by his team leader as having the necessary skills to work in Sales, and at this stage he began to seriously consider it as a future option.

During his second year, he did the standard rotation around the different production departments learning their specific skills as well as considering where he might like to specialise for the remainder of his apprenticeship. Not quite sure which direction he wanted to go in, Reliance allowed him an extension of a month in Inspection and two months in Sales. After that, his mind was made up. He decided on Sales.

Now in the final year of his apprenticeship, Vineet is a member of Reliance’s Standard Products sales team. His role entails communicating with customers from all over the world to understand the issue or problem they are looking to resolve. From the information he gathers he works with the team to determine the solution Reliance can offer. This is where the previous three years of his apprenticeship have really helped. Having spent time working in all departments, he has a good understanding of the capabilities of each.

Vineet has also spent time at the company’s facility in Ireland where a number of Reliance’s standard products are manufactured. Whilst he was there, he worked on different machines, learning how to operate them and what they are used to produce. He also spent time understanding the operation of the business and its processes.

Vineet explains “I am really enjoying my time working in Sales. I feel like I have gained the best of both worlds in my apprenticeship. I have learnt about engineering and the capabilities of the machines in a practical, hands-on way, supported by theory from my college courses. I am now working in an environment where all of this knowledge is brought together to create a solution for a customer, allowing me to further understand our capabilities in drawing, modelling, parts, components and assemblies.”

Vineet is due to complete his apprenticeship in the summer, which will coincide with the completion of his Higher National Certificate (HNC) in Mechanical Engineering. He comments “I would really like to pursue a career in Sales here at Reliance once I graduate from the apprenticeship scheme. I am also keen to continue with my studies and would like to do an engineering degree if at all possible.” He continues “I would definitely recommend the Reliance apprenticeship scheme for anyone keen to pursue a career in engineering. It doesn’t necessarily mean working in manufacturing once you graduate. There can be opportunities available for office-based positions in Sales or Engineering Design or other departments. Regardless of your career path, the core engineering skills you learn throughout your apprenticeship will give you a unique foundation of knowledge on which to build your skills and expertise in your chosen specialism.”

After your apprenticeship

“The apprenticeship scheme provided the foundations on which I could build a career. It enabled me to learn the practical, hands-on core engineering skills onto which I’ve been able to add academic and practical theory.”

Hannah England
Hannah graduated from the apprenticeship scheme in 2010. Supported by Reliance, she went on to study a four-year master’s degree at Newcastle University, returning each holiday to work in the assembly production engineering department. After achieving her MEng in Mechanical Engineering, she returned to take up a full-time position as a Mechanical Engineer, planning and overseeing the process development of space projects and application trials. During this time, she began to work towards her Chartered Engineer status with the IMechE (Institute of Mechanical Engineers).

In 2017 she was promoted to Team Leader for Fine Assembly, Space and Life Sciences, and shortly afterwards, was awarded her Chartered Engineer status. As Team Leader Hannah manages a team of people, supporting them in the development of their skills and knowledge and ensuring assemblies meet the necessary quality standards.

Hannah will shortly be moving to a new role as Senior Production Engineer in the Assembly Production Engineering Department, taking responsibility for planning jobs, tooling, developing assembly processes and supporting production.

Read Hannah's story

Hannah’s time on the Reliance Precision Apprenticeship Scheme was slightly different to the standard four years the majority of apprentices undertake. She applied whilst studying for A Levels in Maths, Physics and Design, all specifically chosen to enable her to begin a career in engineering. At the end of the application process Hannah was offered a bespoke, fast track three-year apprenticeship, with the intention of going to university at the end.  

Her first year was the standard apprentice training year alongside which she began a Higher National Certificate (HNC) in Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering at college. In her second year she did a specialism in Turning, working alongside the manufacturing engineers to fully understand the manufacturing process, and completed her HNC. The final year of her apprenticeship was spent working full-time at Reliance in which she spent six months in Turning and six months in the Assembly Production Engineering Department.

When she graduated from the apprenticeship scheme in 2010, Hannah went to study a four-year course at Newcastle University. During the holidays she came back to work in the Assembly Production Engineering Department. She comments “It was like coming home each time I came back for a stint at work. Knowing everyone and how the business operates, it was an easy adjustment to make getting back into work-mode.”.

In 2014 Hannah graduated with an MEng in Mechanical Engineering and returned to Reliance to take up a full-time position as a Mechanical Engineer. Her role involved planning and overseeing the process development of space projects and application trials, as well as developing methods for assembly. Once back at Reliance, Hannah decided to study for her CEng (Chartered Engineer) status with the IMechE (Institute of Mechanical Engineers). Keen to build on her qualifications and increase her knowledge, she thought an internationally recognised qualification could be a great asset to her future career. Whilst working through the IMechE MPDS (Monitored Professional Development Scheme) she was promoted to Team Leader for Fine Assembly, Space and Life Sciences. With overall responsibility for the assemblies being built, she managed a team of people, motivating and supporting them in the development of their skills and knowledge. She also took on and managed the project to create a new technical assembly facility at Reliance, dedicated to the assembly of Life Science products. The end result of which, she is extremely proud of.

Hannah was awarded Chartered Engineer status in 2017 after successfully demonstrating her ability to develop solutions to engineering problems using new or existing technologies in creative and innovative ways. She will shortly be moving to a new role as Senior Production Engineer in the Assembly Production Engineering Department, taking responsibility for planning jobs, tooling, developing assembly processes and supporting production.

She comments “The apprenticeship scheme provided the foundations on which I could build a career. It enabled me to learn the practical, hands-on core engineering skills onto which I’ve been able to add academic and practical theory. Reliance have also provided me with a platform to share my passion for engineering. I visit schools to give talks about engineering as a career. I also run Reliance’s annual International Women in Engineering Day event which aims to provide girls with an insight into engineering and the different career opportunities available.”

After your apprenticeship

“Looking back at the boy who started at Reliance over twenty years ago, I would never have believed I would be where I am today. I will be forever grateful to Reliance for taking me on as an apprentice. They opened my eyes to a whole new world and enabled me to discover a passion for metrology.”

David Torr
David has worked at Reliance for over twenty years and is now their Head of Metrology. He joined the apprenticeship scheme back in 1999 and, after spending his final year in the Inspection Department, graduated with a full-time position as an Inspector.

Over the course of the following seven years he progressed to Deputy Chief Inspector and then Chief Inspector, managing the whole Inspection team and the operation of the department.

During this period he gained qualifications in Dimensional Measurement as well as undertaking a two year, part time Foundation Degree in Engineering, specialising in Metrology.

In 2014, whilst studying for his degree, David was promoted to a newly created role, Head of Metrology. This position saw him introduce new measuring systems and procure new equipment to integrate in to Reliance’s manufacturing processes.

His most recent achievement is achieving Chartered Engineer status from The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) in recognition of his capabilities and innovation developing and investing in technology during his career at Reliance.

Read David's story

David Torr has worked at Reliance for over twenty years and is now their Head of Metrology. He joined the company back in 1999 after being offered a place on the Reliance Precision Apprenticeship Scheme.

David recalls studying for his GCSEs at school with no idea of what he wanted to do afterwards. He freely admits he didn’t enjoy school, as he was not particularly academically minded at that time. What he did enjoy though was making things, specifically taking things apart and rebuilding them to understand how they work. It was because of this interest his school careers service introduced him to Kirkdale Industrial Training Services (KITS).  KITS, an engineering apprentice training provider, opened David’s eyes to the world of engineering and the opportunities within. It was through KITS that he learnt about the apprenticeship position at Reliance.

David admits he found the application process difficult. He struggled with the more academic aspects but excelled in the practical elements and was over the moon when he was offered a place.

The first year of his apprenticeship was spent at KITS in their training facility where he learnt foundation skills. He also began a four-year City & Guilds engineering course at Huddersfield Technical College on day release basis. Back at Reliance for the second year of his apprenticeship, he worked his way around the different manufacturing departments learning the core skills of each, before choosing to spend the remainder of his time specialising in grinding. However, during the final year of his apprenticeship, David was given the opportunity to move into the Inspection department. Historically, apprentices had not been taken into this team and although he was not entirely sure what the position would entail, he decided to give it a go.

In 2003, David graduated from the apprenticeship scheme and took a full-time position in the Inspection team as an Inspector. His role entailed inspecting parts, confirming quality standards and completing inspection reports, continuously learning from his colleagues. In 2008 he was promoted to Deputy Chief Inspector, taking on additional responsibilities managing the wider team as well as providing support to his manager. He also started programming Co-ordinate Measuring Machines (CMMs), developing a keen interest in how they work, the information they provide and what you can learn from it. It was this work which saw him begin to develop his analytical skills. Two years later he was promoted to Chief Inspector, managing the whole Inspection team and the operation of the department. During this period David gained his Level 1 and 2 qualifications in Dimensional Measurement from the National Physical Laboratory (NPL). He also was involved in managing projects within Reliance’s Continuous Improvement Programme as part of the company’s drive to deliver manufacturing excellence.

Having discovered an appetite for learning and a desire to keep developing his skills and knowledge, David decided to study for a Foundation Degree in Engineering, specialising in Metrology. This was a two-year degree which he did part-time alongside his work at Reliance. David comments “I absolutely loved doing the degree. It helped me see the benefit of how the core subjects of maths and English, coupled with the ability to research, could help me in my engineering career. It really was a pivotal moment for me.”

In 2014, whilst studying for his degree, David was promoted to a newly created role, Head of Metrology. He began by introducing new measuring systems and procuring new equipment, all of which needed embedding into Reliance’s manufacturing processes. This resulted in a huge amount of training throughout the organisation, which David managed and oversaw. He also began taking apprentices into the Metrology team, immersing them in the technology and science to see if they excelled and could be potential future team members. Then, in 2016, Reliance made the decision to merge Inspection and Metrology, creating one department – Metrology. David continued his role as Head of Metrology, seeing his team increase both in size and capability.

David’s most recent achievement is achieving Chartered Engineer status from The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET). His award recognises his capabilities and innovation in developing and investing in technology during his career at Reliance. He comments “I am so proud to have achieved my Chartered Engineer status. Looking back at the boy who started at Reliance over twenty years ago, I would never have believed I would be where I am today. I will be forever grateful to Reliance, and in particular its founder, Mr Selka, for believing in me and offering me an apprenticeship position. It introduced me to a whole new world and enabled me to discover a passion for metrology. As Reliance’s business has developed, the importance of metrology and inspection has increased, and they are now an integral part of our manufacturing process. We are continually investing in new equipment, training and developing new techniques to ensure we maintain our high measurement standards and I am incredibly proud to be part of the team and leading it.”  

Information correct as of March 2020