After a 35-year career as an engineer at Royal Mail, William took the plunge and started a degree apprenticeship aged 51. This goes to prove that age is really no barrier.
After 35-years of working at Royal Mail, William had built significant industry experience but had yet to gain any degree-level qualifications. After a lengthy discussion with his family and line manager, William decided to take the plunge and started the BEng (Hons) Mechatronics and Intelligent Systems Degree Apprenticeship at the University of Central Lancashire.
William was impressed with how tailored the degree apprenticeship programme was to the actual skills needs of the industry. For example, he used Solid Works at University, which is the same software that Royal Mail uses in their Engineering department. On top of this, William’s cohort was given programmable logic controllers (PLC) and power supplies to take home and he felt this complimented the lectures very well.
From an employer’s perspective, Royal Mail was able to pick the modules that best suited the job duties William does daily. This system can be mapped to most industries that use machinery, meaning the employees learn things that they’re actually going to use in the workplace.
"Going back to a learning environment was a brave step for me. When you go into the University environment, your thinking is challenged. It broadens you as a person as well as your education. You’ll question things and learn to not take things at face value. You’re never too old to start"— William Crabb, BEng (Hons) Engineering Degree Apprenticeship graduate
Post-graduation, William feels more confident when discussing issues with colleagues and / or suppliers because of his increased working knowledge of Royal Mail’s systems. He comes from an area of expertise rather than a place of guess. Conversations can be more technical, leading to problems being resolved much faster. He feels more secure in his role, and he now has qualifications to back up his wealth of industry experience.
The most challenging part of William’s experience at University was time management. Fitting the learning and assignments around work, family and general life was sometimes difficult. However, William felt supported by UCLan’s intensive support system and through the UCLan-Royal Mail agreement that allowed him to take time off work to complete assignments. He felt Royal Mail was very supportive in this area.
Having reflected on his University experience, William is now considering either postgraduate study or progressing his career in a management role. He said, “Now I have the degree, I can look at opportunities and think, ‘I can do that’, More avenues have opened up to me.”