06 December 2012 By Billy Hawkins
It has been nine months since Lewis Mathers (aged 19) started at Alitex as an apprentice engineer and whilst he has fitted easily into the company it is interesting to learn more about his placement here– what’s he getting out of it and how’s he getting on.
Lewis attended South Downs College and from here he trained with PETA (a work placement training centre) for 6 months. PETA focusses daily on work based training at Havant which aims to build work skills for young people before entering the job market.
Before Lewis came for interview here at Alitex he did some research, looked at the website, familiarised himself enough with the company to know that he would very much like to work here. Logistically he would be able to get to the South Harting HQ from his home in Waterlooville, which he hoped would set him out from his contemporaries. Dave Miles, production manager here at Alitex interviewed him and felt that Lewis would fit in, but most importantly he could actually get here under his own steam, which is highly unusual in these days of high car insurance costs for under 21 year olds!
In Lewis’ first working period, there is little or no expectation except to employ safe working practise and be alert - factories can be dangerous environments and carelessness is not encouraged. Lewis’s father works in a machine shop so he had some expectation of what “proper”, working life would entail but Lewis admits that the transition from classroom to workplace can be a tough one and is a permanent learning curve. Lewis has found the support and encouragement of the factory team helpful and he feels as though he can ask questions, as many times as he needs to, which he finds invaluable to his learning; the knowledge of the people around him is immense. He is getting to the point where he can handle some of the computer aided cutting machines on his own and feels as though he is contributing something back to the team.
Lewis still returns to PETA one day a week for training where he meets up with his friends from the course and compare experiences. It seems as though Lewis is getting more opportunities here at Alitex, he is not just doing the machining and by being moved around the factory, he is gaining a wider understanding of manufacturing. Increasing his skill set is what he wants out of the apprenticeship and the ability to put into practise theories learned in the classroom.
“This placement at Alitex suits me, I’m enjoying being part of the team and learning skills”, says Lewis.
In five years time Lewis wants to be in full time employment, preferable with Alitex and to have achieved his Level 2 & 3 NVQ in Engineering. Lewis does feel a loyalty to the company and wants to do well and meet expectations. After the company day out in September (Tall ships on the Solent) Lewis felt very much part of the Alitex team and really wants that to continue.