Ben McKenna, 18, is in his third year of a four-year engineering apprenticeship at GSK in Ulverston.
A former Ulverston Victoria High School student, Ben went to GSK for work experience while he was in year 10, which inspired him to join the firm as an apprentice in the summer of 2016.
He is now completing a City and Guilds Institute of advanced technology qualification with trainer Gen2.
Ben is also a science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) ambassador for local schools and colleges across Cumbria.
He said other youngsters should definitely consider an apprenticeship and that employers were more focused on potential than experience.
“When you are 16 to 18 years of age you may be thinking that lack of experience in the industry you are applying to will prevent you from getting the job that you desire,” he says.
“However, employers are looking for potential over experience. It is vital that during your application and interview that you demonstrate any transferable skills that you have already developed, like teamwork, time management and motivation.
“My apprenticeship with GSK has been a very enjoyable experience thus far and all aspects of the programme have been an opportunity for learning and development.”
In October, Ben was accepted as an ambassador for the Young Apprentice Ambassador Network for the North West.
The network delivers national projects designed to inform and inspire England’s students about apprenticeships on behalf of the National Apprenticeship Service.
He is one of 40 people promoting and marketing apprenticeships at schools and colleges in the North West of England.
Ben was asked to attend a national Trailblazer event for the Institute for Apprenticeships (IFA), at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester as a guest speaker, addressing over 200 employers, CEOs, government officials and over 30 representatives across a vast array of disciplines and business sectors.
The IFA was so impressed that Ben was asked to sit on the panel for the IFA to represent apprentice standards.
He is now representing all apprenticeship standards for the UK and is the youngest of the 27 members on the apprentice panel.
He will be the voice for all apprentices nationwide and report directly to the IFA board, ensuring that apprentices have a say in changes to the apprentice standards and policies.
This latest role sees Ben promoting and inspiring career aspirations in the younger generation as well as representing GSK and apprenticeships at government attended conferences and events.
Ben has already attended an IFA panel meeting and started discussions with Anne Milton, the Minister of Skills and Apprenticeships, about improving complaints procedures, establishing kitemarks, minimum wages and setting standards around ‘off the job training’ for apprentices.
Last month Ben, was interviewed by BBC Bitesize, who are creating a series of news articles on inspiring young people.
He plans to complete his Higher National Certificate in electrical and electronic engineering with distinction in May and then move onto further education, completing a Higher National Diploma in electrical and electronic engineering by May 2020, with the prospect of ultimately completing a bachelor’s degree in electronic engineering or engineering management.
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