Ruth Atkinson-Leighton

Member Article

Case study: The student apprentice

After completing her GCSEs Ruth Atkinson-Leighton was encouraged by her school to attend sixth form college; however the courses available didn’t appeal so she decided to look for alternative options.

Fortunately, a friend working as a fabricator suggested engineering and recommended taking an apprenticeship. This encouraged Ruth to attend a three week engineering appreciation course at NETA Training in Stockton-on-Tees, where she had a chance to try her hand at a number of engineering disciplines, such as welding, pipefitting and mechanical engineering. On completing the course, Ruth decided to follow a career in engineering construction and signed up for an ECITB apprenticeship in Design and Draughting.

The ECITB Apprenticeship Experience

The ECITB Design and Draughting apprenticeship runs for three years. The first year being spent full time at an ECITB accredited training provider, in Ruth’s case NETA Training. Here she learnt the basic principals of design and draughting, including subjects such as how to produce drawings using computer-aided design and draughting packages, the characteristics of materials and how to identify and analyse design options. After completing her first year at college Ruth moved onto her work placement at Aker Solutions, also in Stockton-on-Tees, where she is currently in her second year.

“In my opinion apprenticeships are the best route into work,” comments Ruth. “I still go into college one day a week to keep up my studies, but have the benefit of putting these skills into practice for the rest of the week at work – it’s an ideal combination.”

“I’m specialising in mechanical design and draughting and use Computer Aided Design (CAD) systems to created detailed engineering drawings used in the building and modification of process plants. No two jobs are ever the same, which is great as it means my day-to-day work is really varied - I’m always learning new things.”

“Most of my work is office based although I do go on site visits from time to time. It’s great being able to see my work in progress and meet up with the on-site team. Team work is a really important in many engineering construction jobs, and design and draughting is no exception.”

“Looking to the future, I’m planning to take a degree in Mechanical Engineering and after that I’d like to work within the nuclear sector – I’ve been working on a nuclear project at Aker and it’s really inspired me to pursue a career in this field.”

“Finally, if I could give one piece of advice to school leavers it would be to take time to look at all the options available, there are so many alternatives to the traditional sixth form and A Levels. Engineering wasn’t talked about or even presented as a career option when I was at school, which is a shame as it’s such a huge industry with a wide variety of well paid careers, which are there for the taking!”

Watch the video of Ruth Atkinson-Leighton here.

Small & medium enterprises apprenticeship incentives

In light of the need to train people now, and the lack of in-scope companies with the capacity to employ apprentices, the ECITB is supporting an initiative launched by the National Apprenticeship Service to encourage small & medium enterprises (SMEs) to take on apprentices in England.

The scheme, Apprenticeship Grants for Employers (AGE), has been backed by the Government and will offer grants of £1,500 to up to 40,000 SMEs prepared to take on their first apprentice.

For more information on this initiative please visit or telephone Don Atkinson, North East Regional Account Manager for ECITB on 07971438720.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Don Atkinson .

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