Knorr-Bremse Rail UK is a member of the global Knorr-Bremse Group, a world leader in on-board systems and service support for rail vehicles. Operating from four UK locations: Melksham and Corsham in Wiltshire, Burton-upon-Trent and Manchester, Knorr-Bremse design, manufacture and support systems for all types of rail vehicles, from trams to high-speed trains.

Aaron Rens is the Quality Assurance Manager at the Knorr-Bremse Corsham facility. Aaron has been supporting the UK HR team to develop the new Apprenticeship Scheme and, as a past apprentice himself, understands the benefits of taking this career path. We spoke to him about his journey:

How did your apprenticeship journey begin, and why did you choose this path?

When I left school, I didn’t have any idea what I wanted to do, but knew I wanted to be hands on so engineering seemed like the right fit for me. I started an apprenticeship in turning, milling and grinding – really just learning the basics – at a company in Swindon called Uni Mill whilst studying a Level 2 qualification at college. This apprenticeship gave me the knowledge and the skills to develop, and I earned my degree from Bath University. I never thought I would be able to gain a degree, but undertaking an apprenticeship made this possible for me.

What are the proudest moments of your career so far?

Being published in two engineering magazines was a highlight! The work I do at our Corsham site was picked up by one of our suppliers, and they did a case study about how we used their products to streamline our own processes.

Another highlight was being asked to be involved in the development of the Knorr-Bremse Apprenticeship Scheme – I was absolutely delighted to be told I had been identified to be a part of the process! I am excited to help people to start their own journey – I have recently undertaken leadership and management training, as well as a coaching qualification, so I think I am ready to do just that!

What is your advice to others who may be considering an apprenticeship?

Don’t under estimate the value of the core skills you learn at the beginning of your engineering apprenticeship. It may seem dirty and ‘hands on’ but those skills are rare these days, and you can’t get to a senior role without knowing the basic processes. An apprenticeship allows you to build the perfect foundation, and it is a small investment of time to get the skills many people don’t have – I couldn’t have got where I am today without undertaking my own apprenticeship. And remember, it’s not just for boys – we need female engineers too!

Applications for the 2020 Knorr-Bremse Apprenticeship Scheme will open in September 2019. To find out more about the scheme, visit the apprenticeship page of their website here.

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