From Apprentice to CNC Team Leader: The Value of Career Progression



Not every destination is determined by one linear path. Multiple decisions and pathways can lead to the same outcome, there never is a right way.

The same can be applied to career progression. There is no longer just one straight-line approach to launching a career. There is a variety of routes available, from university degrees and traineeships to entry-level jobs and apprenticeships.

At Astley, we pride ourselves on providing apprenticeship schemes and developing the next generation of signage professionals, having introduced 12 apprentices to our team within the past 5 years.

Apprenticeships, often thought of as the less ‘traditional’ route, offer an alternative for young people to commence their careers. Fostering the development of hands-on skills and industry experience, apprenticeship programmes allow individuals to undergo training, all whilst earning a salary.

We decided to sit down with one of our graduated apprentices, Reece, and take a look at his journey so far – from apprentice to CNC team leader.

"The benefit of starting as an apprentice is earning a wage whilst you're developing your skills so by the end of your apprenticeship, you're a fully skilled worker"

Reece started his apprenticeship at Astley over 6 years ago, progressing to CNC machine operator, until recently becoming CNC Team Leader. He highlights the benefit of gaining valuable skills, and with the prevalence of the skills gap within the manufacturing industry, this is ever-relevant. Apprenticeships have the means to address these skills gaps and increase productivity, all whilst allowing individuals to develop their personal skills and knowledge in order to attain a rewarding career.

As manufacturers, we have noted a downturn in young people entering our industry. We believe that apprentices, with their hands-on nature and reskilling potential however, are one of the most effective solutions to begin bridging this skills gap and accumulating a dynamic workforce.

“I think there is a stigma about going down the apprenticeship route over university, as university seems to be the more traditional route. With an apprenticeship, you’re learning the job, developing your skills, and gaining experience.”

Careers that were once only accessible through higher education are now available to those wanting to take the apprenticeship route. Today, modern apprenticeships offer a unique opportunity to combine academic and vocational training, whilst also being employed full-time.

“There are lots of career progression opportunities [at Astley], going from apprentice and now to team leader."

Reece’s journey has highlighted the career opportunities that are available for apprentices like our own. Having already been working in their chosen field for several years before finishing their programme, apprentices have a higher chance of securing a good, relevant job by the end of their training.

Training and development has been instrumental in the overall business strategy of Astley since its inception. We recognise the importance of nurturing the talent of our youth; from the shopfloor and installation, through to finance and sales, we have seen an array of apprentices embrace and succeed in their chosen career path.

Apprenticeships aren’t necessarily something everyone can offer – but we believe they offer an incredibly valuable alternative for both companies and people wanting to start a career. What we need to ensure is that these alternatives are given a bigger platform in order to increase exposure and awareness of such career paths.

Everyone’s path looks different; as long as you know you are on the right one for you, you will always reach your end goal.

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