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    National Apprenticeship Week: Celebration Friday!

    9 February 2024

    As part of celebrating National Apprenticeship Week, we are taking the opportunity to celebrate achievements of our apprentices and in particular, Ethan Aldous. He achieved a merit in his Food Industry Technical Professional Degree Apprenticeship last year and we spoke to him about his experience as an apprentice, and how it has benefitted his career.

    Ethan works at Avara, which is one of the UK’s largest food businesses. They supply chicken and turkey to supermarkets and restaurants. They have several sites across the country, and Ethan started his apprenticeship journey at their Brackley site. He started as a QA and gained experience across different roles and various sites, before landing in his permanent role as a Quality Systems Manager at Telford, towards the end of his apprenticeship.  

    Ethan said that doing the apprenticeship and having the learning element in the workplace was beneficial – he could see direct links to what he learned at university. For example, research skills enables him to effectively review customer standards that can be quite lengthy and complex documents, so knowing how to search for the right section can save a lot of time.
    Technical knowledge learned at university can help put elements of his work in to perspective. Ethan said that food safety culture was another module that gave him a wider perspective of his role. Having other apprentices on the course from other parts of the sector also helped to compare practices across other food manufacturers; learning about bakery and fresh produce from other apprentices helped Ethan to think about practices or processes that could be adopted to the poultry industry.

    Ethan was able to have a wider overview of the organisation through being given the opportunity to be seconded to other departments and parts of the business, so was able to work at other sites to understand the whole industry. While on secondment to the Dudley site, Ethan undertook a project to look at packaging process control. This was one of the work-based projects that are part of the university degree which also gave him an opportunity to make suggestions for improvements to the business. He was able to utilise problem solving techniques learned at university to work through the project and put together a solution suggestion for more effective stock levels

    When asked what advice he would give somebody who was in their first year of their apprenticeship, he said they would need to know it can be tough at times. You definitely start with a different mindset to when you finish; there will be times when you have self-doubt Having the motivation to work through these times and keep going is important – 5 years feels a long time when you start the programme, but it goes quickly! Ethan said that the support and guidance you receive from other apprentices, colleagues and university staff is key to achieving the apprenticeship programme.

    Ethan said he had applied for full time university but had decided it wasn’t for him and that he was ready to work when he started the apprenticeship. He had already had experience of being away from home and studying while at college and felt he didn’t need to repeat this experience. An apprenticeship is not the right choice for everyone but for Ethan, it was the right choice that gave him the opportunity to achieve a degree and to gain work experience.

    If you want to know more about the Food industry Technical Professional degree apprenticeship, join our open day on the 9th March to hear about the course in more detail and the opportunities available within the food manufacturing industry.

    Ethan with Steve Moore and Cassie Denton from Avara at graduation Ethan with Steve Moore and Cassie Denton from Avara at graduation



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