Viacheslav Pliuiko, an 18-year-old hailing from Poltava, Ukraine, has embarked on a remarkable journey as he commences his apprenticeship to become an electrical maintenance technician in the UK. His journey is deeply intertwined with the harrowing conflict in Ukraine that forced him and his mother to seek refuge in the UK.
Viacheslav said, “The last few years have been very challenging for myself and my family, but we have been warmly welcomed since we arrived in the UK.”
Poltava, his hometown, found itself perilously close to the front lines of the conflict, enduring frequent missile attacks.
“I was a 16-year-old schoolboy when the invasion happened,” Viacheslav said, “and I found it impossible to concentrate on my studies. Most of my classmates had to leave the country and I knew that I would not be able to progress at school and I would have no prospects for the future, so eventually my mother and I decided to leave.
“My father has had to stay in Ukraine with three of my grandparents which has been very difficult.”
Coming to the UK for safety
In the UK, Viacheslav and his mother found refuge through the Homes for Ukraine program. Initially, they stayed in a hotel for two months before being welcomed by a generous family.
Undeterred by the challenges, Viacheslav pursued his education. He completed both an electrical and electronic engineering course and his Ukrainian high school studies online. His determination led him to apply for an apprenticeship with ExxonMobil at Fawley, a company renowned in the oil and gas industry.
Viacheslav’s passion for engineering, coupled with his aptitude in math and physics, made him a strong candidate for the ExxonMobil apprenticeship programme. When he received the news of securing the apprenticeship, he described the moment as “exciting and overwhelming”. He said: “My dream had just come true! I’m extremely grateful for this opportunity and thrilled to become a part of ExxonMobil.”
“I am starting to feel very positive about the future.”
Starting an apprenticeship in the UK
In his first year as an apprentice, Viacheslav will gain practical skills at Eastleigh College and the Fawley complex, while simultaneously pursuing a two-year BTEC course at Basingstoke College of Technology to enhance his knowledge base. Over the following two years, he will refine his expertise at the Fawley complex, working towards completing a Level 3 science industry maintenance technician apprenticeship.
Louise Leavy, organisational development manager at Fawley, said: “Our new maintenance apprentices are part of a long and proud tradition of apprenticeships at Fawley and I am sure that Viacheslav and his colleagues will do us and themselves proud.”