Rhys Vincent

Taking on a Mechanical Engineering apprenticeship has changed Rhys’ outlook on his working life, giving him plenty of opportunities to learn new skills.

When we spoke to Rhys in March 2022, he was eagerly awaiting the results of a Welsh Skills competition he’d taken part in. We’ve recently found out that he won gold for CNC Turning. Congratulations, Rhys!

Hear what he had to say about his apprenticeship and what he plans to do next...

Hi Rhys! Could you tell us a little bit more about yourself?

My name is Rhys Vincent and I’m an apprentice engineer at FSG Tool and Die Limited. I’ve been an engineering apprentice since September 2020, learning with TSW. I’ve been in all the departments at FSG which includes CNC Milling, Tool Build, CNC Turning, and I’m currently in Quality Assurance.

What does a typical working day look like for you?

I come in about 6am. If some urgent work comes in, we get on with that. Some stuff has to be specially programmed.

What appealed to you about your role with FSG?

The quality of the work that I was shown when I first started. There were some pretty interesting parts and it satisfied me with how good they were. I thought to myself, ‘I’d like to have the skill to produce these parts.’

What apprenticeship did you take with us?

I did a diploma in Mechanical Engineering Level 3.

How has the apprenticeship been for you?

It’s gone well. I’ve been working on the machines and learning with John. I’m currently doing a university course down in Trinity St Davids in Swansea. That’s helped me with it.

Has the apprenticeship improved how you do your job?

It’s helped me improve my efficiency with my job. It’s helped me find lots of methods that would have the same outputs as conventional processes. Say we’re programming something, instead of programming a part individually, you’d replicate that part of the code, modify it to suit and it speeds up the production time on that machine.

How do your employers support you?

My employers have helped me quite a lot. One of my team leaders on CNC Turning – almost every day, he was always there to help me get better. He was a really good guy.

Let’s talk about your TSW Training Advisor, John...

John’s been really good. He’s always there to help us when you need it – you can just drop him an email and he’ll be happy to take time out of his day to help us. Always happy to go over our work to see how we can improve it.

Do you feel like part of a community while you’re learning?

I’m learning with a few of my colleagues and the work does help us to dive deeper into our work at FSG.

John mentioned to us that you’ve also competed in a Welsh Skills competition. How did that go?

We find out the results in three days. You have to get everything as spot-on as you can. We were given a drawing of a model of a part, and I had to make a program based on that model, and machine it. You had to meet certain aspects, certain tolerances. That was quite hard. A lot of work goes into that.

[Since this interview, Rhys found out he won gold Welsh Skills CNC Turning – well done, Rhys!]

What motivates you to learn?

Hopefully, I’ll be satisfied with the progress that I’ve made and the engineering skills I’ll possess.

That’s the thing that makes me happy.

Do you think taking an apprenticeship has changed your life in some way?

It has given me a much better outlook for my working life. When I did my A-levels back in school, I didn’t do as well as I thought I would. It wasn’t until I was introduced to an opportunity in Coleg y Cymoedd in Nantgarw on an engineering course, which led me to an apprenticeship that led me here. And I still managed to get into uni anyway, studying an Advanced Manufacturing course. It’s a Higher National Certificate that can lead on to a Higher National Diploma.

What advice would you give to someone thinking of taking on an apprenticeship?

I’d say having an apprenticeship is a very good opportunity to get experience of work and to get paid well doing it. You may also get the opportunity to go to university, which is also all paid for, so you get no student debt which is a really good advantage.

Not only that, but you’re almost guaranteed a career at the end of the apprenticeship, depending on your performance and commitment.

It will be challenging at first, but that will be different for everyone. Personally, I have enjoyed it very much because it’s given me many opportunities as well as the skills competition. I’d highly recommend taking up an apprenticeship.

What are your career aspirations? Where will we see you in 10 years?

Hopefully, move on to more advanced things like aerospace working with more complex parts. That requires more skill and that’s the level I’d want to get to.