Process Operators typically work on production lines within food manufacturing plants. The industry uses excellent manufacturing processes and highly automated equipment and technology to ensure it remains competitive, and produces food and drink products to strict food safety and quality standards.
Individual employers will set the selection criteria for their apprenticeships. In order to optimise success, candidates will typically have four GCSEs at grade C or equivalent, including Mathematics, English (grade 4 or above) and a Science. Employers who recruit candidates without English or Maths at grade C or above must ensure that the candidate achieves this standard prior to the completion of the apprenticeship.
Employers will set their own criteria, but typically an entrant to this apprenticeship will already have achieved a minimum of Entry Level 3 in English and Maths.
There will be two phases of training to ensure that apprentices meet this apprenticeship standard, in line with specified employer requirements.
The foundation phase will be intensive off-the-job training focused on developing the apprentice's core skills, knowledge and behaviour, allowing them to work effectively with supervision in a largely simulated working environment. This stage will typically require 1,400 Vocational Guided Learning Hours, building up from the basics to more complex engineering operations and practices. The tasks will be aligned to the job role to develop a range of tailored core engineering techniques. By the end of this phase, the apprentice will therefore be able to demonstrate, under independent test conditions, that they can deploy the relevant skills and occupational behaviours.
There will be an employer endorsement as part of the final assessment of this phase to ensure that the apprentice has demonstrated full competence against the knowledge, skills and behaviours in this apprenticeship standard. The employer will sign off that the apprentice is ‘job ready’ as a competent technician.
Apprentices will be expected to comply with their company's standard Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) dress code. Any shortfalls in safety equipment will be addressed during the first week of the course.
Completion of this apprenticeship standard will be recognised by the relevant professional institutions as the evidence required for Engineering Technician (EngTech) registration through a professional review.
For those deemed capable and ready, there is the chance to progress to higher levels of education and training.
Student welder Rosie Dales is forging ahead in the male-dominated world of fabrication thanks to Derby College. Rosie, 24, is set to take a Level 3 NVQ in Fabrication and Welding. She is also adding skills to a previous Level 2 qualification which she did not gain through an earlier provider. Rosie, who was born deaf and is a skilled lipreader, uses a hearing aid to boost what sound she can hear. She praised the teaching focus of her Derby College tutor and said her fellow students were "deaf aware", which was helpful. After working unpaid for two weeks, Rosie landed an apprenticeship with her grandfather's firm, Dales Fabrications, in Ilkeston. She found that she loved the work and the company is now funding her college training.
Rosie said: "I'm really enjoying the college work. The tutor is focussed on the students and I'm making good progress.
"I think it's going well. I'm taking small steps at a time. After I qualify I might go on to a higher qualification and see where that takes me. We'll see."