Apprentice Story

Leah Hardaker

Apprentice Mechanical Craftsperson

About Leah

Vital Energi are committed to creating a sustainable workforce of the future through our exciting apprenticeship programmes, and Apprentice Mechanical Engineer, Leah Hardaker, answers a few questions we asked about her experience so far.

As well as finding out what an apprenticeship at Vital is really like, Leah highlights the opportunities on offer, tells us what it’s like to work in a male-dominated environment, and explains why she chose an apprenticeship over going to university.

Tell us a little about you and your current role at Vital
I’m an Apprentice Mechanical Engineer (Pipe Fitter) within the Pre-Fabrication team, and I am currently in the second year of my 4-year apprenticeship at Vital. I’m based on-site, working on a variety of projects under the supervision of my site supervisor, installing the work produced and approved by the design team, architects, clients, and project managers. I go to Salford City College every few months for 2 weeks at a time, for a mixture of classroom learning and hands-on workshop learning, where we’re given independent and group tasks to complete.

Why did you choose an apprenticeship over university?
For me, university just prolongs starting your career. When you know what you want to do, why not start early? Through an apprenticeship, you can gain experience from a young age, earn money and learn everything you need to know! I’m glad I went down this route as I’m learning and focussing on my specific job role and not wasting any time. I also feel really positive about my future career path as I will have gained a strong background with hands-on experience, while learning and working at the same time.

What is your favourite aspect of the apprenticeship?
The many amazing opportunities it has to offer. Working for Vital allows me to work on different jobs in different cities learning all different things. All projects are completely diverse and across a variety of sectors such as hospitals, universities, breweries, supplying multiple buildings, so the jobs are never boring and there’s always something new to learn! Also, the positive working culture here encourages all employees to work together as team to achieve success, and I love being a part of that.

What kind of support do you receive as an apprentice? And how has this been beneficial to you?
Starting young in a male-dominated industry, I was worried I’d feel out of place, but the company and the team treated me the same as everyone else which really put me at ease. As an apprentice, I receive a lot of guidance from my colleagues as they are experienced and more than happy to share their knowledge, so I can pick up tips and tricks that will help me build my skillset. I’ve built a strong relationship with my manager, which is great as I can easily contact him and any problems I have are resolved with no hassle. I find that there is lots of support and mentorship across the business, as every member of staff is happy to help, so I’m never afraid to ask questions or let them know if I’m struggling with something.

The apprenticeship programmes have so much to offer, and Vital is a growing company, achieving so much. The company has really good processes in place and produces work of the highest quality for clients, which makes me very determined to work well and keep up to their high standards. I feel really proud to be part of the team.

Leah Hardaker, Apprentice Mechanical Craftsperson

Did anything surprise you?
Yes, how interesting the job would be! At first, being clueless to the industry, I didn’t expect there to be so much hard work, thought, dedication and high levels of technicality to each job. The processes behind heating and ventilation and the high standards Vital work to make me proud to be a part of the team. There is a lot more to it than you would think, which makes projects and installations enjoyable to learn about and to work on.

What should someone expect from an apprenticeship from Vital?
A successful career path. The apprenticeship allows you to learn on the job, while earning money, and gaining experience and knowledge, whilst making friends and building working relationships. Being part of Vital also feels really rewarding because of the company’s sustainable vision, and it brings many benefits that other companies can’t offer you.

What are your career aspirations?
I want to gain as much experience as I can working on-site as a Pipe Fitter, and I aspire to work my way up to being a Foreman. I’m sure that wherever my career takes me, it will be a success as I will have a strong skillset thanks to valuable on-site learning, and a qualified trade which opens up many opportunities.

Vital Energi are looking to recruit apprentices in all areas of the business, site and office based, from design engineers through to project delivery engineers and operational engineers as well as support service opportunities.

Are you ready to contribute to the UK’s Net Zero journey? If so, then apply today by sending your CV to [email protected].

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