Machines and mechanics careers

Roles include:-

  • Skilled operators involved in producing parts
  • Set-up of machines
  • Mechanically maintaining the machines
  • Building and assembly of machines and equipment
  • Designing the machines themselves.

Machines are used in all manufacturing businesses and so these roles are found in every business.

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What skills do I need
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Communication and presentation skills
  • Creative approach for new ideas
  • Technical knowledge
  • Practical understanding of how things work
  • Good team-working skills
  • IT skills (Computer Aided Design)
  • Commercial awareness
  • Ability to work under pressure to deadlines
  • Interested in machines
  • Ability to prioritise and plan.
Below are Case Studies of successful people who followed this path.
Mark Hitchcock – Mechanical Fitter
Vocational > Apprenticeship > Employment

After leaving school Mark was unsure what to do next and after applying for various courses and apprenticeships he was offered an apprenticeship at ZF Lemforder.

Why choose this route?

Mark chose the apprenticeship route so that he could earn and learn!

What happened?

A month after leaving school Mark started his apprenticeship. He did nine months off-site training and completed his Level 2 in Basic Engineering. Mark also did an electrical course at college studying City and Guilds Part 2 Engineering Systems Maintenance.

Mark continues to study and has completed his HNC part time at college in the evenings – the company sponsored his training costs. Key roles as a Mechanical Fitter include mechanical breakdowns and project work. Being able to do mechanical and electrical makes sure Mark is flexible and adaptable and multi-skilled.

“I wanted a skilled job – something with prospects. It’s hard to know what you want to do when you leave school. I applied for various courses and apprenticeships and was offered the apprenticeship role at ZF Lemforder.”
ZF Lemforder – Wednesbury

ZF Lemforder is part of a German owned group employing 350 people at its site in Wednesbury where they machine and assemble high volumes of steering and suspension joints for cars including Jaguar, Land Rover, Aston Martin, Toyota and BMW. The precision, high volume machines require continual monitoring and mechanical maintenance to ensure that quality and reliability is kept.

Martin Bolton – Machinist
A Levels > Vocational > Apprenticeship > Employment

Martin chose the vocational / apprenticeship route after A levels. He thought about going to university but after weighing up the costs he decided to take the practical route.

Why choose this route?

Martin took the apprenticeship route to avoid the debt associated with university fees. He also valued the opportunity to earn while he learnt and to get the valuable hands on skills offered by an apprenticeship.

What happened?

Martin completed his A levels in pure maths, physics, design manufacturing and then moved to a vocational / apprenticeship route. Martin joined the EEF and did two years full time vocational study doing his BTEC Mechanical Engineering. He then started work at Somers Forge where he did his apprenticeship as a Machinist.

Martin has an identical twin brother, Matthew, who followed the same initial route. However, Matthew decided to go to university full time studying Design Engineering. He studied his degree for three years and then did an internship for a while to get some work experience before gaining work at a plastics company and then a casting company. In 2012, he came back to Somers Forge to work as a Machinist with his brother.

Many staff in this industry are heading towards retirement and soon there is going to be a big gap of skills and knowledge in the forging industry. Filling the roles will be a big challenge to the sector.

The two brothers took completely different routes but have now ended up doing the exact same job at Somers Forge – same career different path!
Somers Forge – Halesowen

Somers Forge has a large site employing about 120 people in both forging and machining large steel parts. In particular they forge and machine propeller shafts for naval ships and submarines. These parts need high tolerance machining on a range of large and complex machines.

Production processes and methods in the Black Country
Every manufacturing company has some need for machines and mechanical skills for both operating and maintaining equipment. Black Country companies with employees in this field include:- 3D Tooling Technologies Ltd, Bilston Engineering Ltd, Bri-Mac Engineering Ltd, Brockmoor Foundry Co Ltd, BST Supplies Ltd, Cab Automotive Ltd, Clarkwood Engineering Ltd, Moog, Mueller Europe Ltd, NES Ltd, Saddlers Court Manufacturing Ltd, SSE Pipefittings Ltd, Hadley Group, HCM Engineering Ltd, Jay Engineering Ltd, Jenks & Cattell Engineering Ltd, Lodent Precision, Mako Precision Engineering Ltd, Metal Assemblies Ltd, Metsec, Midland Tool & Design Ltd, Timken, Turner Powertrain Ltd, Ufone Ltd, United Technologies, Waterfit Ltd and Zero Cases.
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