Sellafield’s rising Apprentice Firefighter Champions recognised in National Apprenticeship Week

Meet Nathan McCarry, Firefighter Apprentice Champion from Sellafield

Before firefighting, Nathan worked in a garage as a paint and bodywork technician. He felt he had come to a dead end in his role, and decided to look for a new path with better career prospects. He recently told how he got on the road to become a Firefighter Apprentice:

Sellafield Apprentice Nathan McCarry

“I saw a local apprenticeship provider Gen2 had advertised for apprentice firefighters. I contacted them to get as much information possible. Before applying I discussed the opportunity with my girlfriend and considered the impact as in the short term it would be a temporary pay cut, but we felt it would be well worth it in the long run.

“I applied online and followed the steps, which were sent to me by the apprenticeship provider. After providing proof of relevant qualifications, I was invited to an aptitude test and then a fitness test. After successfully completing these I attended an interview.

“Working for Sellafield is really good; they are the biggest employer in my area and employee a large amount of the local community. They provide training to staff to the highest level and there are endless opportunities within the company.

“Throughout the apprenticeship we have done off the job training with Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service doing numerous courses such as RTC and Hazmats. We also received 6,12 18- and 24-month assessments on different aspects of firefighting.

“Weeks were planned to attend Gen2 for theory classes covering different subjects like confined spaces and risk assessments that provided us with knowledge for our End-Point Assessment.

“One of the most challenging aspect of the apprenticeship was the revision required for a professional discussion, part of the End-Point Assessment process. I spent a lot of time thinking about what would be included in the questions.

“Despite that challenge, I found the apprenticeship really good particularly meeting new people, gaining different skills, qualifications, and learning about different aspects of firefighting.”

We asked Nathan what he hopes to do next, now he’s found his career path through his apprenticeship, he added:

“I’d like to continue to get qualifications on more advanced roles in the job such as rope rescue and also get my HGV license to allow me to drive the appliances.”

Meet Apprentice Firefighter Champion Macy Baker, working for Sellafield

Macy has recently been an Apprentice Firefighter, working for Sellafield. Macy told us about her apprenticeship and what it means to be involved in the sector:

“Before starting as an apprentice, I was in sixth form and was seeking an apprenticeship which would be a challenge as well as something I would enjoy. I applied for the apprenticeship via Gen2 online.”

Macy Baker

“Working for Sellafield is very interesting; I am learning a variety of new things every day as well as being able to enjoy developing new skills in a range of aspects that I never thought I would.”

As part of most apprenticeships, a requirement of training if delivered off-the-job and we heard from Macy about the kinds of activities that have been most interesting to her aside from the on-the-job learning. She added:

“I have attended a variety of courses at college to enhance my learning on the job as well as course in other fire brigades such as in Cumbria and Durham and Darlington that have allowed me to use examples of different types of working for my professional discussion.

“I have had the time to revise for exams and practice drills for my practical exam. The hardest part was finding the balance to revise for my written exam, practical exam and professional discussion at the same time but with help from my manager, colleagues, and the apprentice guideline I was given I managed to make time for each exam.

“Nonetheless, the best part of my apprenticeship has been seeing how much my colleagues and I have progressed from knowing very little basic skills to now being able to complete complex tasks and drills successfully and seeing how much we have learned.”

Excited to hear Macy’s journey, we wanted to share what was in store for her next in her career:

“I hope to continue progressing in my role by applying for extracurricular exams and courses to gain even more skills and become more confident in certain aspects of the job I haven’t had as much time to focus on.”

To celebrate and encourage even more people like Macy to consider Operational Firefighter Apprenticeships as their career path, we asked what her top tips would be to anyone in a similar position, considering the role of an apprentice:

“I would advise anyone thinking about doing an apprenticeship to just go for it, even though it may seem difficult, if you put the time and hard work in you will succeed!

“The job role can come across as daunting to some people which it especially did for me being a young female but with dedication and some help from others I have thoroughly enjoyed it all!”

Michael Jolly, Watch Manager Fire & Rescue at Sellafield shared his own insights about working with Apprentice Firefighters…

“We recruit our Apprentices via Gen2, which is a local college to our site. Working with apprentices is incredibly interesting, rewarding and a real achievement. It’s important that our apprentices learn a range of skills when working with us, including safe working, regulations and relevant procedures. Our Apprentices have an added challenge in that they work in a nuclear environment, meaning they need to learn a range of additional skills.

“Despite this challenge, it’s incredibly rewarding when our Apprentices pass their End-Point Assessment and complete their apprenticeship. We hope that our apprentices go on to learn and develop a range of unique skills such as rope rescue, water rescue, USAR (Urban Search and Rescue) and instructor roles in the future.

“My top tip for anyone considering an apprenticeship in the Fire & Rescue sector is to be prepared to work hard both physically and mentally.”

From everyone at SFJ Awards, thank you to Macy, Nathan and Michael for their involvement in the Meet the Apprentice Champions campaign and shining a light on the exciting careers possible through apprenticeships in Fire & Rescue. We are thrilled to share insights from those working hard to help develop the skills of the workforce of tomorrow.

Follow us for more National Apprenticeship week insights on Twitter @SFJAwards #NAW2021

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