Apprentice Profiles

Choose an apprenticeship at Sellafield Ltd and you’ll earn while you learn. More importantly, you’ll be working for one of the UK's leading apprenticeship employers.

Want to learn more about what it’s like being an Apprentice on one of our schemes at Sellafield Ltd? Meet some of our present and past apprentices below from various schemes who will give you a snapshot of their experiences.

Past & Present Apprentices

Deanna Pearson

Health Physics Apprentice

Scheme: Health Physics Apprentice

Why did you choose the Health Physics Apprenticeship?

Deanna: I have always seen Sellafield Ltd as a company that offers really good career opportunities and having done a little research while I was in sixth form, Health Physics was the most appealing area to me. I applied and was really happy to have been accepted into Gen2 for this scheme; Gen2 has a really good reputation in the area so I couldn’t have been more pleased.

Why did you choose an apprenticeship over other options available to you, such as university?

Deanna: I had previously considered university but my priorities changed when I had my little girl halfway through my A-levels. I had a small break and went back to complete my studies as I wanted to finish my exams and get as many qualifications as I could. I still wanted to have a successful career but more importantly I wanted us to stay together locally as a family.

It was hard balancing my family and exams but well worth it to get on the career ladder.

One quarter of our apprentices are female, do you find that your scheme in particular is male dominated?

Deanna: During our training at Gen2 there were three girls to nine boys, but in the plant where we currently work there are 27 females and only seven males! I think it depends where you are working but there seems to be a good mix which is nice.

What skills have you learnt that you can apply to your career in general?

Deanna: Team work! This is definitely something we do on a daily basis and it gets easier each time. Communication is also something I’ve become more confident with, having had to deal with difficult conversations or situations I find I can respond in a professional way to reach a solution.

What’s the most challenging part of being a health physics apprentice?

Deanna: From the first day I have been thrown in at the deep end and been given a huge amount of responsibility, this can be challenging knowing that other people are putting their trust into you to keep them safe, but this just makes me want to learn as much as I can whilst I’m shadowing some more experienced monitors. Everybody I’ve been working with has made it really easy to settle and I have merged really well with the team.

Jack Riley

Advanced Scientific Apprentice

Scheme: Advanced Scientific Apprentice

Why did you choose an apprenticeship over other training options?

Jack: I chose an apprenticeship because the advanced scientific scheme provided me with the opportunity to study qualifications up to level four in a subject I love.

This, in addition to earning a competitive wage while staying close to home.

How is your training going?

Jack: I am in the third year of my apprenticeship and my current role involves performing highly skilled elemental analysis of environmental and plant samples, to ensure that plants are operating safely and to quotas set by the Environment Agency.

What is the best thing about being an apprentice at Sellafield Ltd?

Jack: It is a really good company to work for as there are so many opportunities to develop.

The best thing about being an apprentice is the lack of tuition fees, which I would have typically assumed to get to my current position. I also enjoy the effective combination of practical and college based learning.

What are your plans for the future?

Jack: I plan to complete a degree in chemistry before hopefully diversifying into further environmental work and Sellafield Ltd is the perfect company to support me through that process.

What’s been the biggest highlight of your apprenticeship so far?

Jack: During my apprenticeship I was lucky enough to be in ‘Team Sellafield’, winners of the Brathay Apprentice Challenge [a national competition to raise the profile of apprenticeships]. It was a life changing experience; I met people and had opportunities that I simply would not have had, had I not got involved.

What else do you outside of your apprenticeship?

Jack: In the first year of my apprenticeship I enrolled on a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) training course so that I qualified as an ambassador and could work in local schools and careers events both during and outside the Brathay Challenge.

Why did you choose to become a STEM ambassador?

Jack: I became a STEM ambassador as I really wanted to broaden young people’s view on the apprenticeship industry. The advanced scientific scheme is unique and I feel it’s sometimes overlooked when career routes are being chosen. University is a great route for some young people, but does not suit others like myself. I want to advise other young people on the opportunities out there that are not as well publicised.
What do you think STEM ambassadors add to the educational system?

Jack: Working in schools, conducting fun activities is where I feel young people gain the largest benefit. They come away inspired to choose an apprenticeship or explore a career in STEM, which they probably would never have considered before.

Jordan Roberts

Mechanical Machinist Apprentice

Scheme: Mechanical Machinist Apprentice

Why did you choose an apprenticeship?

I chose an apprenticeship because I prefer practical, hands-on work over learning from a book. I’ve always loved making things with my hands and this allows me to put that into practice in a real working environment.

What does your mechanical machinist training involve?

At the moment my role involves machining (turning and milling), prepping material for the working week and collecting components from a plant issuing centre on the Sellafield site.

The best thing about being an apprentice is learning new skills on the job and being paid to do so, there are also lots of career opportunities at Sellafield and it is exciting to be part of such a huge company.

I volunteer as an engineer with the local heritage steam railway and I am finding that I am applying many of my new skills to that role too.

What is the best thing about being an apprentice?

I love learning new skills and enjoy using my position to inspire other young people to follow a similar career path, which is why I volunteer as a STEM ambassador for the company. I am also a Scout Leader in my spare time so I find it easy to interact with young people. I enjoy going to career fairs and STEM events to talk to students about apprenticeships and dispel any misleading perceptions they may have about being an apprentice.

What are your career aspirations?

My future aspiration is to become the best I can be in my current role and see what opportunities open up once I have more experience.

Emily Telford

Business Admin Apprentice

Scheme: Business Admin Apprentice

Why did you choose your apprenticeship?

Emily: I chose the business administration scheme at Sellafield Ltd because I had previously undertaken work experience on the Sellafield site and really enjoyed it. From this point on I knew it was the career I wanted to pursue.

You’re part of the Sellafield Ltd apprentice council; can you tell us more about it?

Emily: The council meets up every month and my role is secretary therefore I set up the meetings, take and write up the minutes and support the council with any admin jobs. We have two chairs who take it in turns to run the meetings and then we have the apprentice team to support and guide us on how we can go forward with our ideas.

It’s really good to be involved with the council as it gives Sellafield Ltd apprentices a voice and makes it easier for them to provide feedback on their experiences. So far we have come up with some really creative ideas to improve our training, promote apprenticeships and also support the local community, so we have plenty to keep us busy in the coming months.

What kind of things has the council organised?

Emily: Only in its third year, the council has already done so much to strive for the best for apprentices across the business. Some of the things we’ve done as a council that I’m proud of include, completing a ‘What Happens Next’ event where apprentices were invited to find out how to progress in their career after their apprenticeship finishes, a 13 mile Christmas charity walk which raised £3800 to be split between three local charities (Hospice at Home, West House and Cumbria Flood Appeal), improved apprentice workbooks, and various community projects including cleaning up a local woodland area in Whitehaven, filling 175 bin bags and removing a fridge and tractor tyre from the area!

What has the council planned for National Apprenticeship Week 2016?

Emily: The council has also been working very hard to set up lots of different events to take place during the week to promote apprenticeships and give something back to the community, including job shadowing of our local MPs and Sellafield Ltd directors, taking part in the Big Rigg event at Lakes College, delivering school talks, attending career fairs and taking part in more community projects at Egremont Bowling Club and Lowca School.

Sarah Tyson

Project Management Apprentice

Scheme: Project Management Apprentice

Why did you choose an apprenticeship over other training options?

Sarah: University always appealed to me as the next step after sixth form but whilst studying for my A Levels I decided looked into other alternative routes that were available.

After researching different career routes, I decided that a higher apprenticeship was the path I wanted to go down as I would be earning whilst I was learning. Through a higher apprenticeship you achieve a degree without getting into debt and gain industry experience, this was a key driver for my application for the Sellafield Ltd project management apprenticeship.

How is your training going?

Sarah: The scheme has provided me with a great opportunity within the nuclear industry and allows me to work towards an Association for Project Management (APM) level four diploma, engineering fundamentals, and also a foundation degree in project management and controls, therefore also developing my academic knowledge. I believe my apprenticeship will equip me with the skills to go on and have a successful career in project management.

Were you encouraged down the apprenticeship route?

Sarah: Through my own experience, I feel schools push for students to choose university as the path to a skilled career after sixth form. I believe more awareness is needed to promote apprenticeships in schools and help students and teachers see that an apprenticeship should be ‘plan A’ after school. This may be achieved by holding more career fairs, attending local schools and getting the pupils involved in workshops etc. This is something the apprentice community at Sellafield Ltd are always getting involved in, but I do believe this more needs to be done by companies across the UK to ensure the word is out there regarding the variety of apprenticeships there are on offer.

What do you think about the future of apprenticeships?

Sarah: I believe they are the key to training and up-skilling the next generation of professionals across the UK. They provide young people with a good start within industries; they allow skills and the knowledge to be developed to bridge the needs of the business.

Adam Sharp

Mechanical Design Apprentice

Scheme: Mechanical Design Apprentice

How did you first hear about apprenticeships?

Adam: The first time I heard about apprenticeships was in one of those typically boring hour long career sessions you had at secondary school. At the time everyone was encouraged to go to university, as if there were no alternative career paths of value. Everyone told you; If you don’t go to university, you’ll never amount to anything. For some reason, this was the idea school ingrained in you and nothing was going to change that. So when we found out someone was going to talk to us about apprenticeships our reaction was less than enthusiastic. We knew what we were going to do already so what was the point? And when the question was asked, “who in here is thinking about an apprenticeship when they leave school?” Not surprisingly, no-one put their hand up.

Over the next hour, what we all thought would be a tedious career session turned into something we actually paid attention and listened to, because we were all surprised by what we were hearing. You can get paid to do your job and learn at the same time? Apprentices can obtain qualifications such as degrees? These were all things which grabbed our attention and made us think twice about what we were going to do. To me, the fact that you could earn and learn, rather than paying to learn, was a no-brainer and after three and half years as a mechanical design apprentice, it still is now.

Do you enjoy speaking to local school students about apprenticeships?

So when Sellafield Ltd gave me the opportunity to speak to some local school students about apprenticeships, just as someone had to me six years earlier, I instantly put myself forward.

Just as I was back then, the students were surprised that they could earn and learn. They were also surprised at how many types of apprenticeships there are and how there is a scheme to suit nearly anyone. 

The question is, were any of the students inspired by the talk? I asked them before and after, “who in here is thinking about an apprenticeship when they leave school?” The second time around, the number of hands raised had nearly doubled. In that moment I felt instantly proud that I, as a Sellafield Ltd apprentice, had done my bit to inspire our next generation to pick an apprenticeship as their ‘plan A’.

Sarah McKenzie

Nuclear Operator Apprentice

Scheme: Nuclear Operator Apprentice

Why did you choose an apprenticeship?

Sarah: I chose an apprenticeship because I wanted to learn and earn as well as gaining vital job experience and qualification that will help me progress throughout my career

What does your current role entail?

Sarah: My current role involves supporting the building manager to ensure the plant is up to site standard, my role also involves taking an active role in insuring waste is disposed of in accordance with site standards.

What do you enjoy most about being an apprentice?

Sarah: The best thing about being an apprentice is you are not only learning the theory but putting it into practice

The highlight of my training so far has been the experience as a whole has been rewarding but if I had to pick one thing it would be going into my placement and training in the plant.

I am also a member of this year’s team representing Sellafield Ltd in the Brathay Apprentice Challenge and we have been busy raising the profile of apprenticeships as well as supporting the local community.

What advice would you give to young people considering a nuclear apprenticeship?

Sarah: I would recommend an apprenticeship to people anyone who likes the idea of gaining experience whilst learning.

There are some old fashioned perceptions of apprentices as just being an option for those who can not get into university, but this is not true. Lots of people are choosing apprenticeships as the preferred option even though they have been offered a place at university.

I would encourage people to do a little research as it might come as a surprise to them how exciting some of the opportunities in the nuclear industry can be!

What are your career aspirations?

Sarah: My future aspirations are to continue to develop in my career and gain many more qualifications to help me work my way up the career path. Due to the diversity of jobs at Sellafield Ltd I know I can try different roles out and then make a decision as to what I want to do in the future.

Jenna Moran

Project Management Apprentice

Scheme: Project Management Apprentice

Why did you choose a Project Management apprenticeship?

I had originally applied for an electrical apprenticeship with Sellafield Ltd but the company felt my skills were better matched to a new scheme they were running, the project management higher apprenticeship. When I was offered a place on the scheme, I was working part-time at McDonalds and looking for opportunities to progress.

How has your training experience been so far?

I wasn’t sure what to expect but since I began the scheme a year ago, but the ball hasn’t stopped rolling. I have been enjoying my time and challenging myself everyday, which can be quite stressful but really rewarding. I feel I’m getting a real insight into what project management is actually all about.

What’s the best thing about being an apprentice at Sellafield Ltd?

I’m now in the second year of my apprenticeship and my training experience with Sellafield Ltd has been brilliant so far. There is a good team bond between the apprentices here, we are always looking to help each other out.

What would you say to someone thinking about applying for an apprenticeship?

Go for it! I believe young people have a lot to offer the nuclear industry. We bring a new way of approaching things and are more willing to take risks.

What are your future aspirations?

In the short term I am planning on becoming a ‘buddy’ for one or more of the new trainees who will arrive as part of the company’s record apprentice intake of over 200 new recruits this year. This will help me to develop my mentoring skills and pass on my learning.

I’m excited about the next steps, gaining more experience and ultimately becoming a project manager.

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