To coincide with National Apprenticeship Week, we're shining a light on the Bradford district's emerging workforce through a series of 'Meet the Apprentice' question and answer articles. 

Name: Kieran McCrickard

Age: 24

Apprentice Level: Level 3 Science Manufacturing Technician

Company you work for:

Solenis, based in Low Moor, Bradford, primarily produces polymers and flocculants for wastewater treatment in a variety of heavy industrial markets, including pulp and paper, mineral processing, and upstream energy. Solenis employs over 500 employees covering a variety of roles including differing levels of Production Operators, Engineers, and Chemists to name a few.

Apprenticeship provider: CATCH

Introduction about themselves: I joined Solenis at the age of 19 as a Science Manufacturing Technician apprentice. I completed my apprenticeship in December 2022, and I am now working full time at Solenis as an Operator 2. This is one level above where an apprentice would be expected to be working at coming out of their apprenticeship.

In 2023, I won Apprentice of the Year at the Bradford Means Business Awards.

How long have you been an apprentice:

My apprenticeship took 3 years.

What is your apprenticeship in and why did you choose this sector?

My apprenticeship was in Science Manufacturing (Process Operations). I chose this sector because I enjoyed science in school and wanted to continue with a career in science.

Solenis is a fantastic place to work, the department I work in is great, the people I work with are amazing, the job is interesting and challenging. The pay is great and the career paths I can potentially take here are intriguing.

What does your average working week look like?

At the moment, as I now have a full-time role, I work 2 days and 2 nights and then I have four days off – it's a great shift pattern. When I was an apprentice I worked days, this provided me with the perfect opportunity to meet all the teams on differing shift patterns. A typical day as an apprentice would entail being trained on the DCS (distributed control system) that operate the various plants. It took years of training to be signed off as competent. In addition, I also needed to be trained in the outside plant areas, carrying out plant checks was a daily routine. We were also given time to progress our college work in works time, and this was something I always kept on top of. I just loved sitting with my colleagues and letting them tell their stories and provide me with more knowledge from their experiences.

Why did you opt to do an apprenticeship rather than A Levels or a B Tech?

I actually completed a B Tech first, as I enjoyed school and wanted to carry on in education. I then found the apprenticeship and knew it was the best option for me. Although I never needed to do my A-Levels for this role.

What is the most rewarding thing about your apprenticeship?

One of the most rewarding things is being able to work, learn and get paid at the same time. I was always given the time to complete my NVQ to a high standard. I also received training from high level mentors, who have years of experience in this role. In addition, I had the chance to be involved in Solenis Science Lab for Kids, school presentations, Bradford Manufacturing Weeks, apprentice development days, work experience programmes as well as giving site tours on apprentice assessment centre days.

If one of your friends was thinking about doing an apprenticeship, what advice would you give them?

I would always recommend an apprenticeship as it’s such a great opportunity. Being able to get the right experience with the correct knowledge is the best way forward. Anyone who is in an apprenticeship, keep at it, get whatever course work you have done and dusted as soon as possible to prevent falling behind. If in doubt never be afraid to ask for help. The percentage of people on this site that have been through an apprenticeship is greater than when I first started so there will always be people in your areas that will know how to help you and understand the challenges that come at times.

Once you are qualified what are you plans for your future career?

I have passed my apprenticeship, and I am now qualified. I have been offered a full-time role, and I’m currently an operator two within the intermediates department at the Bradford site.