Apprentices Undertake Army Challenge

May 15, 2017

Four of Reliance’s engineering apprentices have returned to work following the successful completion of a four day residential exercise with the Army, designed to challenge their engineering and design skills.

Designed and delivered by the Engineering Officers of the Royal Electrical & Mechanical Engineers (REME), the exercise took place at the Catterick Garrison Army base in North Yorkshire. Aimed at engineering apprenticeship providers and apprentices in the North, it complements elements of theoretical and practical training delivered under challenging conditions, with a focus on technical design, team building and project management.

Having successfully participated in the pilot last year, Reliance were invited to place another set of apprentices. This year they chose two first year apprentices, Haidar Abbas and Lewis Melia, second year apprentice Andrew Mannion and final year apprentice Max Cocker. Max explains “None of us really knew what to expect. The first day was really interesting and a lot of fun. We had to undertake a range of army activities such as camouflage concealment, shooting simulation, a winching challenge and an obstacle course.” Lewis adds “It was intense being part of a small team over four days but it was good to mix with the other year’s apprentices and get to know them better.”

Working alongside apprentices from the likes of Nissan, Caterpillar, Komatsu and Sunderland College, the main focus of the course was to undertake a detailed engineering challenge. Split into mixed company groups, they were given a task along with a range of materials. Working in their groups they had to come up with a solution to solve the problem, design the solution, build it and then present it. Haidar explains “The challenge was tough. There was a lot of communication required between members of the group to come up with a solution that worked. It was good from a team building perspective though and really gave me an insight into the other team members and their personalities. Despite being tough, the whole experience did feel a bit like a treat. It made me feel like Reliance really value me and what I do.”

The groups presented their engineering challenge solutions at a formal ceremony on the final day of the course. As well as the REME Engineering Officers attending, representatives from each of the companies participating were also invited. Andrew comments “It was really scary having to stand up in front of everyone to show them our solution. However, after we’d done it I felt a real sense of achievement. It’s certainly made me feel more confident about myself.”

Richard Walley, Reliance’s Apprentice Training Manager, comments “We are both proud and impressed with how well our apprentices performed in the Engineering Challenge. It wasn’t an easy task to do, but working together, using their mechanical engineering and design skills, they were able to create a solution that worked. We are keen to allow our apprentices the opportunity to participate in challenges such as this which enhance the skills they learn here at Reliance.”

Ken Jolley, Reliance’s Head of Operations, introduced the Army Challenge to the business last year, having himself served 28 years in the REME. He explains “From personal experience I’m very aware of the value engineering/leadership exercises offered by the Army can bring to an organisation. This particular course offers us an opportunity to challenge our apprentices in ways that we’re not able to within our normal work environment. Not only does this provide valuable team building but takes the apprentices outside of their comfort zone, helping develop their character and early leadership skills.  The REME strive to keep all of this within a technical context, giving us the best of both worlds.”

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