Knowledge Centre

BEL Valves engineering apprentices accept permanent positions

Four final year BEL Valves engineering apprentices have accepted permanent positions at its site in St. Peters, Newcastle.

Progressing onto roles in technical sales, assembly and quality of high integrity safety critical valves and actuators, all four apprentices successfully passed their apprenticeship and have been awarded a Level 3 NVQ Extended Diploma in Mechanical Manufacturing Engineering (QCF) MMD: Fitting and Assembly (Engineering Practices). Three of the four apprentices are now progressing onto a Higher National Certificate (HNC) in the same subject.

Part of the British Engines Apprenticeship+ scheme, the mechanical engineering apprenticeship at BEL Valves focusses on fitting and assembly, whilst also exposing the apprentices to quality assurance and control, sales, project management, high pressure testing, painting and packing in order to understand how the business functions.

We spoke to the apprentices about what they enjoyed, projects they worked on and their new permanent roles…

Why did you apply for the Apprenticeship+ scheme?

Callum: I was exposed to the industry because my dad and grandad worked as engineers. This led to my interest in mechanical engineering and when I heard about the British Engines Apprenticeship+ scheme, I knew it was a good opportunity.

Annabel: I was interested in the apprenticeship scheme because of the career path opportunities. The British Engines Group is made up of businesses I am interested in and I knew I could develop skills working in any of them.

What have you enjoyed most about working at BEL Valves?

Patrick: I have enjoyed learning new skills and problem solving. When I first started I was hesitant to try new things. Now when I come into work I get stuck in. Before I would ask for help if there was a problem, whereas now I feel confident in what I do to solve the problem myself.

Jake: All of it! I have enjoyed working with colleagues and learning new skills. Working with other team members and seeing how they complete a job has pushed me to try new things.

What projects have you been involved with?

Callum: Last year at BEL Valves, I was nominated to work within the British Engines Group on a on a hand sanitiser prototype that was trialled at Newcastle International Airport following the COVID-19 outbreak. I was part of the automation team and our role was to build the prototypes and test them. I managed the fitting side of the project which helped me develop my time management skills. It was a great opportunity to be part of an innovative project.

Patrick: In my final months as an apprentice I worked on a valve refurbishment project. The safety critical valves were worth over £300,000 and had been used on various oil rigs.

What will your new role involve?

Annabel: Working in the sales department as a tendering technician, my job is to help secure quotes for parts at a reasonable cost. I am excited as there’s opportunity to attend events and network.

Jake: I have recently started my new role as an inspection technician, which involves manual inspection and non-destructive testing on valves before they are sent to the customer. During my apprenticeship I spent time completing my dye penetrant inspection (DPI) and magnetic particle (MPI) inspection certifications. Next year I plan to complete the personnel certification in non-destructive testing (PCN).

What advice would you give someone who is thinking of applying to the apprenticeship scheme?

Patrick: Don’t be afraid to ask questions. You’re not meant to know all the answers, so be willing to learn and get stuck in. There were times I struggled but I am glad that I stuck it out because it has led me to where I am.

Annabel: Initially I was nervous about being the only female on the shop floor. Quickly I realised there was nothing to worry about. Hopefully over time we will see more women in engineering!

Paul Humphreys, General Manager, said: “I would like to congratulate all four apprentices’ for their achievements so far, especially during the difficult period of the coronavirus pandemic. I am confident they will be successful in their new roles”.

Two new apprentices joined the BEL Valves team in September 2021 to complete a Level 3 in Mechanical Manufacturing Engineering and the new Level 3 Quality, Health, Safety and Environment (QHSE) apprenticeship. We wish them all the best.

Find out more about a day in the life of a mechanical engineering apprentice.