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Liam’s apprenticeship gives him a precision-tooled career


“It’s great starting with a block of aluminium and after machining it, see something of use emerge.”

Liam McCafferty enjoys his job in the machine shop of aerospace and defence contractors TT Electronics.

The 29-year-old from Cirencester is just one of hundreds of young people from the West Country helped to progress into a worthwhile career via an engineering apprenticeship taught and supervised by Swatpro Academy.

Earlier this year, Liam successfully completed a Level 3 Mechanical Engineer apprenticeship, studying for one day a week at the British Engineering Manufacturers Association (Bema) training school in Yate, near Bristol, and using the skills and knowledge he acquired there, back at his workplace for the rest of the week.

“It’s been great,” he says, “the staff really know their stuff and know how to pass on that knowledge.

“There are new machines to learn on, which is good, and in particular I enjoyed discovering how to make engineering drawings. Product design is an area I’m really interested in.”

Liam’s career hadn’t always been in engineering. After education, he worked in a retail environment, eventually joining TT Electronics as a storeman.

“I guess I was looking for something new,” he recalls. “My grandfather had taught me woodworking skills and I’d always enjoyed making things.”

The company recognised where his talents lay and transferred Liam to the machine shop, beginning the apprenticeship with Swatpro Academy’s help and encouragement.

TT is a precision manufacturing multi-national, and the Fairford plant in Gloucestershire where Liam works is one of 27 bases worldwide.

“We work on cable harness manufacture,” Liam explains. “It’s small batch work mostly, designing and creating 10, 15 or sometimes even one-off pieces for our clients, milling to an accuracy of plus or minus 5/1000th of an inch.”

His successful apprenticeship has encouraged the company to expand his work, introducing him to CAD/CAM work where he uses special software to design manufacturing.

He has also been speaking to his HR department about potential further training, perhaps an HNC/HND in an area that will benefit him and the company.

“I’d encourage anyone who is interested, to look into doing an engineering apprenticeship,” Liam says.

“There were a few trainees I worked with who were a bit unsure at first, but as staff explained how things worked, and why we did things in certain ways, it seemed to click into place. We could all see how we could use the knowledge in our workplaces.”

“I’m very happy at TT. I have mates who went on to university and now are paying back debts; whereas I’ve worked, become qualified and earned throughout.

“The apprenticeship gave me a great start to my career.”

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Liam’s apprenticeship gives him a precision-tooled career