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10 February 2020

Author: The Greenpower Team



The only way to become an engineer is by going to university, right? 

Maybe at one point in life, but not anymore. Times have changed (for the better), and for most careers, university isn’t the only option. 

National Apprenticeship Week took place between the 3-7 February 2020 and was a week-long celebration of apprenticeships across England, congratulating success stories across the country. 

More than 1,250 events took place last year to commemorate the annual event, with supporters from across the country, MPs, ambassadors, apprentices, training providers and top employers involved in recognising the value and importance of apprenticeships. 

On the back of this, we caught up with two representatives from our Greenpower Challenge teams at Perkins Engines Company Limited, who offer apprenticeships to young people to introduce them to one of the world’s most successful manufacturing companies.  

Apprenticeships can be a more manageable way to achieve experience in your desired career - especially with hands-on industries such as engineering, architecture and science. In most cases, you can earn some money while gaining new skills and you can put the knowledge you learn into practical activities, immediately. 

For some people, they offer a flexible approach to education. Exams don’t suit everyone, 
and apprenticeships give you the opportunity to learn in a slightly different way in a real-life environment. 

Greenpower Education Trust aims to enthuse young people about science and engineering by challenging them to design, build and race an electric car. While many teams come from schools around the country, we also have a variety of entries from groups of young people and apprenticeship schemes. 

Perkins is one of the world’s leading providers of diesel and gas engines, with aims to set standards of engineering excellence and provide the most comprehensive range of innovative and reliable power solutions.  

Perkins’ Advanced Engineering apprenticeship scheme is a 4-year development programme that recruits post-GCSE students and develops people into skilled technical roles such as Maintenance, Machining, Research & Development and Quality.

Jack is in his 2nd year of his apprenticeship with Perkins Engines Company Limited, racing in team Vixen 2.0, while Alen is in his first year of the companies’ scheme and takes part in Greenpower challenges with Team Wolf. 

Why are you participating in the Greenpower Challenge?

Jack: I’m participating in the Greenpower Challenge after enjoying it last season – especially the teamwork side! Last year, we inherited a car that needed lots of work, really helping me gain electrical and mechanical knowledge. We’ve even put together a proposal for a new car for next season to hopefully win the Greenpower title in our category. 

Alen: It’s a fantastic team building activity which gives us an opportunity to unleash our potential and get recognised. It also allows me to apply skills and knowledge that I’ve learned at work and college to a real, working car. 

How has the Greenpower challenge helped you, particularly with your apprenticeship?

It’s given me a greater understanding of electrical components, circuits and why certain components are needed on the car. This, in turn, has helped during my apprenticeship and in the workplace when carrying out electrical engineering tasks and maintenance. At work, we have the support and expertise from our manager and everybody else in the business to answer any queries we have about the car. 

Alen: Participating in the Greenpower Challenge hasn’t only helped me to improve my engineering/workplace skills, but also helped build my confidence and general knowledge. This will really benefit me throughout my apprenticeship.

Favourite moment from participating?

Jack: Every team is incredibly helpful! If you need new ideas or want to see what the other teams are doing to win races, they’re more than happy to help you. It teaches you to be a good competitor - if a team forgets something on the day of the race, others will happily donate parts or let us borrow tools.

Alen: My favourite part is the interaction with people who share the same passion for engineering as I have. Meeting them has allowed me to see lots of creative designs and sharing skills and knowledge has made me feel even more inspired!

Why did you choose to do an apprenticeship?

Not only do I have the opportunity to earn a living whilst I learn, I’m also surrounded by a wealth of knowledge from my colleagues on a daily basis. I’d recommend it to anyone considering a career in STEM, as it allows you to put into practice what you learn in the classroom – similar to what Greenpower does! It was the best decision I’ve made, and I won’t be looking back. 

Alen: It is a great way of receiving a recognised qualification, whilst having an opportunity to gain skills by doing hands-on training. Getting paid for it at the same time makes it even better! It’s all relevant experience for the career I wish to pursue in the future.