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Holly Herron

Maintenance Technician - ZF Automotive

Engineering Practice

Holly Herron studied Engineering since she was at school, with the goal of climbing the career ladder as a Maintenance Technician. She explains how the Engineering Practice apprenticeship has expanded her skillset and benefitted her current role at ZF Automotive.

My apprenticeship has influenced my role at ZF Automotive by enhancing my skills, knowledge, and confidence in performing my duties effectively. Through the combination of on-the-job training and academic study, I've gained a deeper understanding of industry-specific concepts, tools, and best practices relevant to my role.

As a maintenance technician, I’m responsible for equipment inspection and testing the machines to identify potential issues or signs of wear, as well as conducting tests to ensure proper functionality and performance. I’m involved in developing and implementing preventative maintenance schedules to reduce the likelihood of equipment failures, including lubricating cleaning, and adjusting machinery to maintain optimal performance. I identify and diagnose malfunctions and breakdowns in equipment while conducting root cause analysis to determine the source of the problems, as well as performing repairs on faulty equipment and replacing defective parts of components to restore equipment to operational status.

My apprenticeship has taught me about industry-specific practices, standards, and regulations. Understanding how my company operates from the inside is essential for adapting to the expectations of future employers. Also, my apprenticeship has helped me to foster a culture of learning and development within the organisation. By actively engaging in both on-the-job training and academic study, I've demonstrated the value of continuous learning to my colleagues and peers.

One significant benefit of my apprenticeship is how I’ve gained new technical skills and competencies. By applying theoretical knowledge, gained through coursework, to real-world scenarios within ZF Automotive, I've become proficient in utilising various software, tools, and technologies essential for my role. This has not only increased my efficiency but also allowed me to contribute more effectively to projects and initiatives within the company.

During my apprenticeship, I encountered various challenges that tested my problem-solving skills. One significant challenge was balancing on-the-job learning with academic coursework. Juggling work responsibilities alongside study commitments demanded effective time management and prioritisation. To overcome this challenge, I established a structured schedule, allocating specific time blocks for work tasks and dedicated study periods.

Additionally, I received guidance from mentors and supervisors, who provided invaluable support and advice on managing workload expectations and integrating theory into practice. Their insights, feedback, and advice have been crucial for my growth in the industry.

Since undertaking my apprenticeship, I’ve received a full-time contract at ZF Automotive. I’ve also won the David Child’s Award for Outstanding Achievement on an engineering course, been shortlisted for Apprentice of the Year with the North East Automotive Alliance, and spoken in articles and on the radio about the importance of women in engineering.

My apprenticeship has also had a positive impact on my role at ZF Automotive in several ways. Firstly, my presence as an apprentice has allowed me to bring fresh perspectives and innovative ideas to the table. Through my academic coursework and exposure to new concepts, I've been able to contribute creative solutions to ongoing projects and challenges within ZF.

After I complete my apprenticeship, my ambition is to stay within an engineering role. I hope to become a maintenance group leader because I will have acquired a lot more abilities that I can apply to the position. From there, I hope to climb the managerial ladder further and explore the different aspects of engineering.

I would recommend anyone thinking of doing an engineering apprenticeship to study at Sunderland. Take the time to thoroughly research the course, understand the curriculum, the skills you’ll acquire, and the overall structure of the course. Engineering is a broad field with various specialisations, so explore the different branches of engineering offered in the apprenticeship to ensure they align with your interests and career goals. If possible, attend open days or events organised by Sunderland to get a feel for the campus, meet faculty members, and gain more insights into the apprenticeship.

The engineering apprenticeship has increased my confidence in my abilities at work. By overcoming challenges and completing tasks in a professional setting, it has built self-assurance that will benefit me throughout my career. I’ve also had personal growth, through learning to adapt to new environments, managing responsibilities, and working collaboratively. I’m thoroughly enjoying my apprenticeship and have already developed new skills and knowledge that I can apply within and outside my company. I believe that this course will help me succeed in my future ambitions.

Published 17 May 2024

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