“I started my apprenticeship somewhere else, but the company closed. That’s when Philips took me on. Now I’m an apprentice tool maker and I finish my second year of training in June. My role is to help with servicing and maintenance and the molds in the factory. By molds, that’s anything from bottle molds to AOKI's to silicon molds. It’s quite varied section.”
It’s a role that suits the self-confessed ‘tinker-person’ and former bike mechanic:
“I like to play with bits and pieces and find out how things work. I used to be a bike mechanic and wanted to take my profession a bit further and that’s where Philips came in.
The principles of the company and what they make is very important to me. I like that I’m making something that is directly inputting into people’s lives. Like my sister and her kids, for example. It makes me feel good.”
He finds the tangibility of his role particularly motivating.
“Everything we touch, from a simple mold service to the more complex, it’s really important work and it hits home really when you get to a machine and you see how many cycles it’s done. I have to keep that up and running or everything could grind to a halt.”
As well as making products that make a difference, Stuart has found a team of people who are willing to help and support him, as well as being fun to work with:
“On the apprenticeship scheme, I have a day release one day a week. On this day, I go all day and learn about technical issues, mechanical principles, tech principles, materials etc. And then there’s the on the job learning at work. The guys in tool room are brilliant. If I want to know how to do something, they’re always willing to help and teach me how. We have 12 people in the tool room and their combined experience is over 300 years.
And what do I bring to the team? A bit of diversity, maybe. I’m very willing to learn, to try different bits and pieces and different set ups. I really like the technology side. I like to streamline ideas and make extra jigs. We make products in house where we can reduce costs and it’s nice to make something that helps and makes savings.”
He also feels that he thrives on the unexpected nature of his job – not something you’d necessarily expect from a factory-based role:
“The thing I like most about my role is that I don’t really know what I’m going to do on a day to day basis. I could be turning metal one day, problem solving the next and servicing the day after. It’s really varied. You don’t know what you’re going to come into in the morning so it keeps you on your toes. You really have to adapt to new challenges and think on your feet.”
It’s clear, then, that Stuart’s apprenticeship is arming him with the skills to go further in his career but, given the option, he hopes to stay with Philips:
“I’d like to stay at Philips, if they’ll have me. Staying in the tool room would be a great option and I think I have quite a lot to offer. Before I joined Philips, I did some CAD stuff as well so I’m really keen to see how I can develop and go forward especially as I really enjoy it here. I really can’t find many faults. Depending on the opportunities, I really hope to stay here.”