Joseph Phizacklea

Degree Apprenticeship Level 6 in Plant Engineering

Joseph Phizacklea

Where do you work?

I’m working at Sellafield Ltd in Cumbria, with my training provider being Gen2, who provide lots of training for the nuclear industry. I’m studying for a degree in plant engineering, with nuclear plant and process technology being my main pathways.

Why did you choose this apprenticeship?

I liked the idea of earning while I’m learning. Not many degree pathways offer that kind of initiative. This apprenticeship not only gives you five years’ experience, but is relevant to an industry where there is a high demand.

What qualifications did you have before applying?

I completed my A-levels in 2016 with grades C and above in physics, maths and chemistry.

What skills have you gained?

During my first term, I was predominantly in the classroom but in the past seven weeks, I’ve been based with my employer which is incredibly challenging. I’m definitely developing a stronger skills base! I think being thrown in the deep end is good for you – it teaches you to sink or swim.

How has the apprenticeship benefitted you?

I’m learning how to take what I’m learning in the classroom and apply it to my job. With many university degrees, it’s purely academic, but I can apply the things I’m learning one day to my job the next day. Industry-based knowledge is crucial to my progression and this apprenticeship is definitely providing me with that.

After your apprenticeship, what next?

Ideally, I’d like to be based with my employer, Sellafield, as I’m really enjoying being with them and they are a fantastic company to work for, but I know that this apprenticeship will open many doors for me so I’m excited to see what happens next.

From everyone I’ve have spoken to, I know there is a high probability of me entering full time employment after this, but I also know that with Gen2 the buck doesn’t stop after you’ve finished your apprenticeship. There are various other schemes I could undertake such as my master’s degree or other professional accreditations.

Any advice for someone thinking of an apprenticeship?

For me, it’s a no brainer: do it! You gain so much experience, both academically and professionally. Instead of having the clichéd student lifestyle, you’re actually in the working world, which I think matures you. Make sure you do plenty of research into the apprenticeship though and speak to the right people.

How did you find your apprenticeship scheme?

My sixth form held a careers fair, which Gen2 attended, and I became really interested in the degree apprenticeship scheme. I knew I wasn’t keen on going to university but I still wanted to further myself academically. This scheme really appealed as it offered everything I was looking for in further education: gaining qualifications while earning a wage.