Why I came to ISF
After finishing secondary school in August 2001, I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my career, but I knew I wanted to start earning money while learning a skill. A lot of my friends were going down the apprenticeship route doing electrical, plumbing or joinery and I was thinking of doing something along those lines.
I knew Iain, Managing Director at ISF, from my local community and we got discussing what I was going to do now that I had left school. He asked if I had thought about sheet metal work or fabrication and invited me to come along one Saturday to see what ISF was all about. I went in the following Saturday and after gaining insight into their close-knit team, support culture and incredible engineering projects they were working on, I decided to sign up and started my level 3 Sheet Metal Fabrication and Welding apprenticeship two weeks later.
What happened on my Apprenticeship
During my apprenticeship I worked one day a week at the York Tech College and spent four days in the workshop shadowing and learning from the other experienced metal workers.
My work colleagues taught me core practical skills to manufacture all of the components required for our machines and supporting steelwork. They created such a supportive environment; I always felt like I could go to any one of them with a question and they’d take the time to explain or show me how to do something, which really helped grow my confidence. I was able to learn invaluable techniques and problem-solving skills that cannot be taught in a classroom and can only come from my colleagues’ long-standing experience working in the animal feed engineering industry.
Opportunities after my Apprenticeship
Following my apprenticeship, I was given the opportunity for a day’s release every week to further my education. I went on to complete an ONC in Manufacturing Engineering and then made the step up from the ISF workshop, into the design office. Working with a project manager, my role was to assist with site surveys and complete fabrication drawings for production, often liaising with the client or structural engineer to finalise designs.
Having the background manufacturing experience helped me to produce designs that work within our manufacturing capabilities and better visualise how the designs would work once fabricated. While working in the design office, I also completed a HNC in Manufacturing Engineering at York Tech College.
Since joining as an ISF apprentice back in 2001, I’ve been able to benefit from opportunities for further education, learnt invaluable expertise and skills from some of the best in the industry, and been encouraged to continually take the next steps to progress my career in engineering.
My role as Project Manager and Design Engineer at ISF
I now manage the day-to-day requirements for the design, manufacture and installation of projects delivered by the business across the UK, working with our customers and team to provide bespoke products and solutions to a wide range of industries such as Animal feed, Pet feed, Fertiliser, Biomass, Plastics, Oil, Agriculture and Human Food.
I now have a high level of experience in Autocad and Autodesk Inventor to produce arrangement drawings for client approval and installation, through to detail drawings for manufacture, and part drawings for CNC profiling. Producing our own designs and managing projects from start to finish acting as principal contractor when required under CDM regulations.
Responsible for health, safety and welfare of our employees and other people that could be affected by our procedures, I regularly complete safe working reviews and risk assessments for our projects to be completed safely, alongside liaising with our clients, sales team, production, and structural engineers to ensure that projects are delivered on time and to budget.
I thrive on being involved in all aspects of the project and seeing it develop from start to finish by producing a design to solve a problem, or meet the clients’ requirements, managing the manufacture and installation of the project and seeing the incredible results we’ve produced for our customers at the end.
A word of advice for anyone considering an apprenticeship at ISF
From when I first joined ISF as an Apprentice, to now being a Project Manager, I have always been made to feel like I was a valued and integral part of the business.
Learning a trade opens up so many possibilities for the future, but doing it with ISF means that you will always feel valued, and you will not be just a number, and you will be continually empowered to learn new skills, grow your career and make a real difference.
We work within a very niche market so there will always be the demand for our services, and if you show the right attitude towards learning the industry, then you will become essential to it.