The engineering sector has always been considered a diverse industry due to the wide mix of roles available and this is particularly true in the non-destructive testing (NDT), condition monitoring (CM) and structural health monitoring (SHM) communities
Three NDT apprenticeships are currently available that offer an entry route for people from all backgrounds:
• NDT operator
• NDT engineering technician
• NDT engineer
These apprenticeships have been developed by leading engineering organisations in conjunction with the British Institute of Non-Destructive Testing (BINDT), the professional institute for all those engaged in NDT, CM and SHM,
NDT is an engineering science-based profession that requires competent NDT personnel to inspect materials, welds, components or other items to verify their integrity in industries such as aerospace, motorsport, power generation and distribution, manufacturing, railways, oil & gas (on- and offshore), marine and construction. Real-life examples could include inspecting airframes and engines, Formula 1 gearboxes and nuclear reactors, or other safety-critical components.
The following account from successful apprentice Matthew Beecroft provides an insight for those considering a career in NDT.
When Matthew chose subjects for his A-Levels, he knew for certain that he wanted to work in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields, as these were the subjects he had always found most interesting. It wasn’t until he was assessing the options available to him that he considered engineering because he enjoyed practical work just as much as theory.
Having chosen engineering, Matthew then needed to decide what area he would focus on and how he would achieve the next steps of his education or career. Matthew explained: “In truth, I wasn’t aware of NDT before I discovered the apprenticeship. I’d never really given apprenticeships much thought, but decided to take a look and see if I could find something I liked. This is when I discovered the NDT engineer apprenticeship on the Rolls-Royce plc careers website, which for me seemed perfect. I also decided that choosing an apprenticeship as opposed to following a conventional degree route would give me the opportunity to gain real experience.”
Matthew started an NDT Engineer Level 6 apprenticeship with Rolls-Royce straight after leaving sixth form. Through this, Matthew has successfully completed a BEng (Hons) degree in NDT, Level 2 and 3 NDT approvals and registration as an Incorporated Engineer (IEng). He gained an overall distinction in his apprenticeship in 2021.
Matthew currently holds the position of NDT Level 3 and site controller at Rolls-Royce Barnoldswick. In this role, he is aligned with the manufacturing laboratory and supports the NDT functions within the manufacturing processes of a variety of aerospace engine components.
Although Matthew has now completed his apprenticeship, he remains passionate about them and is pleased to be a part of a workplace apprentice mentoring programme.
The experience Matthew gained during his apprenticeship has also led to additional career opportunities and he was instrumental in resurrecting the North West Branch of BINDT in 2020, holding the role of Vice Chair and now Branch Chair, an achievement he is extremely proud of. Due to his involvement with the North West Branch and, more recently, becoming a BINDT Council Representative for the Early Careers Branch, Matthew has been fortunate enough to sit on Council, as well as other committees such as the Education and Professional Development Committee, which gives him a voice to contribute to the advancement of the industry. In 2021, Matthew was also a finalist in the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) Apprentice Awards.
This year, Matthew has been awarded the Roger Lyon Apprentice of the Year Award, which is presented in recognition of the outstanding achievement of a Trailblazer NDT apprentice who has successfully completed their end-point assessment through BINDT.
Matthew concluded: “I think one of the biggest challenges is the need to diversify the engineering industry, especially in terms of age. The current age gap in the industry is large and could result in a great loss of knowledge if more young people are not brought into the industry and advanced to higher levels. This is something BINDT is already addressing with the apprenticeship scheme and more recently the Early Careers Branch, but more support in these areas from across the industry would be beneficial for all.”
To find out more about apprenticeship training in NDT, visit the website at www.bindt.org/apprenticeships and download the ‘Is NDT the career for me?’ leaflet at: www.bindt.org/downloads/Is-NDT-the-career-for-me.pdf
Image: © Rolls-Royce plc