‘Today, I run a LED lighting company with business partners, and we focus on making savings for the NHS. I have no doubt that I would not be doing what I am today if I had not started as an apprentice’.
I left school at 16 with a hand of GSCE’s at grade C, and I gained a place on the Craft Apprenticeship at Parker Pens Newhaven. My day-to-day work included machining of precision components for making pen components, as well as attending college to gain City & Guild qualifications. After three years of enjoying the Parker Pen tool room I transferred to BOC Edwards in their CNC mass production factory, and change onto a Technician Apprenticeship working towards my ONC. While at BOC I moved into new product development, and during this time I gained scholarships to reading Mechanical Engineering at university.
Before starting at university a colleague at BOC told me about a new UK qualification called an Engineering Doctorate, which follows a similar structure to an Apprenticeship – where you have one foot in industry and one in academia. This was a very fruitful time for me being creative for educational rigour, I invented new products, filed patents, published journal papers, presented at international conference and worked for the American Government in Albuquerque. And I finally completed by Doctorate specialising in nuclear hydrogen production.
I am not academically bright or gifted, but I am luckily as I work hard to achieve a goal.
Apprenticeships are important to me as they give the individual the opportunity to grow and find their own voice and skills, while gaining all important work experience. Apprenticeships also offer the UK international advancement through a skilled workforce that can generate real wealth for the nation.
One of the scholarships I received for university started in 1868, and today this still relies on the original monies given by Sir Joseph Whitworth when it was founded. Today this scholarship is still available and funds 10 to 20 ex-apprentices each year to read engineering at University. For more information search for Whitworth Scholarship.
Today, I run a LED lighting company with business partners, and we focus on making savings for the NHS. A typical project for us is around 6,000 lights and take about 7 months on site to complete. And our projects cover the whole of the UK from Aberdeen to Exeter.
I have no doubt that I would be doing what I am today if I had not started as an apprentice…
Dr Howard Stone