In her words: “You can’t be who you can’t see.”
“My name is Raisa, I’m 24 years old and I live in the Midlands! I have just completed a 4-year Advanced Manufacturing Engineering Maintenance apprenticeship with Jaguar Land Rover.
“I qualified this year and I work in the manufacturing facility where every vehicle built at Solihull gets painted and sealed. Our maintenance work can vary from: repairing and monitoring our overhead conveyor systems, scheduling and fixing our paint and sealer robots and attending lineside breakdowns that could affect our customers.
“It’s funny how things work because I never saw myself working in a male dominated factory environment. When I finished my GCSEs, apprenticeships were never really talked about.
“Naturally I ended up going on to do my A-levels. When I was doing my A-levels I knew that I couldn’t see myself wanting to find a job in the field that I was studying in. It was only when I completed some work experience for an
engineering company during my summer holidays that I realised that this
was the field that I wanted to go on to work in. Although my results were
good on results day, I had already made up my mind that I wanted to go
and work in engineering despite not having any direct qualifications
relating to engineering.
“It was comforting to find out that a lot of the apprenticeship programs did not require an engineering A-level and so I still had the opportunity to go and work in a field that I was passionate about.
“I was really sceptical about working in a factory in the beginning. There were only three other females in our team of 90. I was worried that I wouldn’t fit in or that I wouldn’t have anything in common with my colleagues. I was so wrong to have been worried! The people I work with make up a large part of why I love going to work every day.
“Currently the percentage of females within manufacturing in the UK is only 16%. You see this reflected within industry a lot and it’s shocking to think that
there is still such a huge gender gap in manufacturing. Personally, I think
this is down to poor careers advice at schools and not exposing young
people enough to the wonderful world of manufacturing where anything
from cars to bath bombs are made in the UK.
“The apprenticeship programme I have been on has been the best thing
that has happened to me. I’ve had such a brilliant experience with my
training provider and my employer that I would not want anyone out
there to miss out on the great opportunity that an apprenticeship will give
you. Not only was I sent to a training provider to learn about my trade,
but I’ve also gained critical work experience working in a company, I
have developed professionally and personally.
“I’ve had the opportunity to be involved with politics, travelling and new projects so it’s really exciting. I initially joined the engineering industry as I enjoyed being able to solve everyday problems practically. Working within engineering has only improved my technical knowledge, practical skills, leadership qualities and passion for inspiring the next generation.
“A key issue that stood out for me, was the lack of female and BAME representation across manufacturing. Women bring a whole new dynamic to engineering, as industry moves forward and begins to look at digitalisation and AI, it is important that we engage with more young people, particularly females to close the skills and gender gap across the sector.
“For me there was no option of an apprenticeship or university. I knew I
wanted to be in a role that was hands-on. I love learning and I loved
sitting in a classroom, but what I really wanted to do was get stuck in
and gain all that invaluable work experience that employers reach out
“I’ve always said that you can’t be who you can’t see. If I had seen a female, from a BAME background, excelling in a predominantly white male dominated sector, it would’ve given me the confidence to step into these shoes a lot sooner.
“I hope that this may inspire other women out there to learn to take up the space they deserve and to follow their passions and dreams regardless of the typical stereotypes that may come with being an engineer.”