Lauren Johnston takes the chance to reimagine her career
Despite having qualifications in childcare, learning and development and a job within special education, Lauren Johnston (22) decided to reskill, retrain and reimagine her career prospects with an Apprenticeship in Engineering.
Lauren said: “I had a full-time job in special educational needs but wasn’t sure it was the right pathway for me, so I took a career break for a year and went travelling.
“On my return I decided that I needed to change now to have the career I truly wanted.
“I had always had an interest in engineering and when I heard Diageo were recruiting for apprentices, I jumped to the opportunity – it’s such a world class company I knew this could be my chance.’’
Lauren successfully secured an apprenticeship with Diageo and was linked with SERC to complete her apprenticeship studies at the College’s Lisburn Campus.
She said: “The programme of study at SERC has a great connection with my every day work and gives me an insight into both practical experiences and theoretical learning.
“The blended learning approach is a great way to gain knowledge and develop skills that you are using on the job.
“The tutors at SERC give exceptional support in all aspects of your learning which has given me reassurance in my progression throughout the course. ‘‘
Lauren added: “I have also been fortunate to be nominated for Apprentice of the Year which is a lovely boost to my confidence along with becoming an ambassador promoting the apprenticeship route to other eager individuals.
“I am keen to share how successful it has been for me.
“My ambition is to progress to a higher-level apprenticeship, but I also have the opportunity to complete any in-house training within Diageo to support my progression in the company.
Lauren explained: “Sometimes it takes a little longer to discover what you are passionate about and what you want to pursue for a career, but I feel that all my previous experiences have combined to support me in this new step for a career in engineering.”
Speaking about her day-to-day work as apprentice engineer with Diageo, Lauren said: “Every day is different, and this is what attracts me to the role.
“My main tasks as an apprentice is to work safely as part of the maintenance team, providing support and to actively engage with asset care shift.
“On this shift, all the machines are shut down so the team can carry out works within the machines that it is not possible to do whilst they are up and running.
“ This is a great time for me to get an in-depth knowledge of all the functions of the machine. As well as preventative maintenance, on these shifts we do any outstanding or current works needed on the machines, essentially these are jobs that are labelled with a weekly or monthly check, for example ensuring all parts are in the correct location, that there is sufficient oil/grease for the machine to run smoothly or general housekeeping such as cleaning sensors to prevent them causing stops on the line.
“I also engage with the yearly overhaul which is a more in-depth service and replacement of parts within the machines.
“My role as an apprentice engineer isn’t only hands on work as I have the opportunity to get involved with training and improvement projects within the company, including cost saving and productivity. I also record Learning Logs which supports the link between my workplace and college learning. Completing all these tasks requires me to make effective use of the maintenance systems data.
“Throughout my apprenticeship journey so far, I have received exceptional support from family and work colleagues who always encourage me to be the best I can.”