Siemens is bucking the downward trend in early careers opportunities by offering 26 school leavers, university students and graduates a pathway into manufacturing, automation and digitalisation.

The recruitment drive for the Siemens Digital Industries division aims to bolster its intern, apprenticeship and graduate careers programme which accounts for 10% of its 1,000-strong workforce.

Successful candidates will work from Siemens’ UK headquarters in Manchester or its award-winning digital factory in Congleton.

Covid-19 and the resulting economic impact has contributed to a sharp decline in opportunities for school leavers, university students and graduates.

A recent report by Make UK, the manufacturing industry body, found less than half of the UK’s manufacturers (44%) have plans to hire an apprentice in the next year, down from 74 per cent this time last year. 

Meanwhile, research by the Institute of Student Employers (ISE)** concluded that the number of graduate jobs dropped by 12% in 2020 with further declines predicted next year.

Over the next three months Siemens will be recruiting nine young people for its advanced and higher apprenticeships, two for its International Technical Talent apprenticeships, one graduate scheme position, six interns, and three E3 scholarships. Meanwhile, five university students completing their E3 scholarships will secure places on Siemens DI’s graduate programme. 

Since establishing its early careers programme in 2010 Siemens Digital Industries division has launched and enhanced the careers of more than 100 young people.

Jess Reading, 21, joined Siemens’ degree apprenticeship programme in 2018.

“I had a lot of misconceptions about the structure of an apprenticeship, suspecting it would start with lots of study and little manual experience,” Jess said. “From day one I was thrown into projects and encouraged to get involved. That hands-on experience was thrilling and really helped my confidence. I was surrounded by industry leaders and was encouraged to ask questions. That culture of support where everyone wanted you to succeed has helped me thrive.

“As the apprenticeship has progressed I have been given more responsibilities, and encouraged to lead projects and take ownership, a skill I am really grateful for. I was also able to get involved in the Ventilator Challenge UK. To be involved in such a once in a generation project was incredible.

“Siemens is an ever-changing environment, working with leading edge technologies and pushing the limits of innovation in engineering. It’s an exciting place to work and learn.”

Elliot Bloor, 21, is in his third year of a degree apprenticeship and is working towards a BEng (Hons) degree in Control and Automation.

“I have been given so many opportunities to develop skills in a wide range of disciplines and absorb knowledge,” Elliot explained. “I have been given solid grounding in business improvement, capacity planning, lean and industrial engineering, as well as access to cutting edge digital tools like Plant Simulation, Siemens’ discrete event simulation software, and access to technologies such as the Virtual Reality Cave.

“The culture here is that Siemens will give you the landscape to learn - the expertise, the technology and the tools - but you push yourself to take the opportunities available.

Elliot has thrown himself into apprentice life at Siemens DI. Within his first year, although just 18, he was leading visitors on tours of the digital factory in Congleton. In his second year, he was rewarded with the opportunity to join the layout and digitalisation team on a six-month secondment. Elliot was also selected to get involved in the Ventilator Challenge and was recently named Siemens’ Engineering Degree Apprentice of the Year.

“It has been brilliant, a great experience,” Elliot said. “It’s a lot of work and needs focus and commitment, but you will get the support, and with that, you will succeed.”

Brian Holliday, Managing Director for Siemens Digital Industries, said: “Early careers opportunities like apprenticeships and graduate schemes are a critical part of UK manufacturing’s effort to take advantage of the digital transformation to the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

“Offering school leavers, university students and graduates a fulfilling career pathway is key to solving the skills gap in the technology, manufacturing and engineering industries.

“Over the years Siemens Digital Industries has evolved and enhanced its early careers offering to ensure we have the talent and growth mindset we need for the future.

“We've brought a very diverse group of apprentices and graduates into our business. And guess what, when you throw tough stuff at them, they all step up, and they're brilliant.

“By opening up our doors to 26 more young people we are committing to recruit, train and retain the next generation of innovators, and create high value jobs in the North West.”

There are three kinds of apprenticeships offered by Siemens. Advanced Apprenticeships take between three and four years and combine work and studying for an NVQ Level 3 plus a technical engineering qualification. Higher apprenticeships take between two and four years to complete and combine studying with hands-on training towards an NVQ Level 4 and a relevant HNC. Degree apprenticeships take around five years to complete and earn an NVQ Level 6-7 equivalent to a Bachelor's or Master's degree.

Internships are designed to offer first or second year university students an opportunity to experience life at Siemens through a tailored development programme and put their degree to work in a real world environment through either a three-month summer or 12-month placement.

Another pathway to a career at Siemens is through the E3 Academy, which offers university scholarships for those studying IET-accredited courses with Electrical Energy Engineering options, including a £2,500 bursary for each year of study, paid vacation work placements, summer schools, company mentoring, and a job after graduation.

The Graduate Development Programme is open to those with a bachelor’s or master’s degree, in an engineering, tech or business-related subject, and offers two years of paid training designed to enhance core and soft skills.

The International Technical Talent Apprenticeship programme includes one year in Berlin and then a four-year degree apprenticeship.

Dave Thomas started his career with Siemens 13 years ago through the graduate programme and is now training and development manager currently supporting 100 interns, apprentices and graduates.

He said: “Our early careers programme has been designed to combine the needs and ambitions of today’s talented young people with the skills companies like Siemens need to turn them into the experts of tomorrow.

“Opportunities at Siemens DI cover manufacturing, mechatronics, mechanical engineering, electrical and electronic engineering, technical sales, engineering technical support, IT, data analytics, and business administration.

“Each element of the programme offers stimulating challenges, real-world industry experience, first class mentoring, and opportunity to earn while they learn.

“We’re looking for people who want to take on the challenges of tomorrow with an inquisitive mindset, a desire to contribute to and solve problems in a challenging and diverse environment, the ability to react to changing trends and tackle the unexpected with enthusiasm, and a collaborative approach that saves valuable time and energy, and delivers results for everyone.”

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