People who inspire: National Apprenticeship Week 2019

At the core of our business are our people – people who innovate to make nuclear, safer, faster and at lower cost – and we are passionate about developing the dynamic, talented engineers of the future through our apprenticeship scheme.

To celebrate National Apprenticeship Week 2019, Cavendish Nuclear is profiling a number of current and former apprentices, to highlight how apprenticeships have the potential to provide an important springboard for people’s careers.

Today we speak to Ahmed Hafeji, Assistant Project Engineer.

Ahmed Hafeji, Assistant Project Engineer
Ahmed Hafeji
Assistant Project Engineer
I come from a family of engineers and have always been interested in understanding the ways in which things operate and work. Initially I wanted to go down the traditional education route but soon realised it wasn’t the best route for me and that an apprenticeship better suited my skillset and ambitions. I’ve always felt that having practical experience whilst learning at the same time would be an effective way to build a successful career in engineering.

Cavendish Nuclear has given me a great insight into the operation of the nuclear industry. It has allowed me to develop a deeper understanding into engineering and a wider perspective of how the nuclear industry as a whole functions. Currently my time at Cavendish Nuclear has been split between working within the EDF Strategic Spares department managing projects across various nuclear power stations and attending classroom sessions at university on a day release basis, aiming to successfully attain a Mechanical Engineering Degree and learn the theory behind the practice.

Working in the nuclear industry has given me a chance to face many challenges and work on a range of projects, many of which are quite challenging with critical deadlines, however this has helped me grow both professionally and personally. I have also had the opportunity to work on an outage at Dungeness B Power Station and with Cavendish Nuclear playing such a fundamental role on the outage, it allowed me to really explore the operational and technical aspect of how a project of this nature is managed.
Did you always have an interest to work in the Nuclear Industry?
I have always been interested in the energy sector. However, I was not aware of the huge role the nuclear industry plays globally prior to joining Cavendish Nuclear. Working for Cavendish Nuclear has really cemented my interest and opened my eyes to the opportunities that are available in the sector.
What were your first impressions of Cavendish Nuclear?
Initially I was apprehensive about the opportunities that would be offered to me at Cavendish Nuclear. I was unsure whether Cavendish Nuclear would help to achieve my career aspirations and ambitions. However, with the excellent support of my line manager and the learning and development department, I have been offered a wide range of opportunities, including secondments to areas I expressed an interest in, which has deepened my understanding in a variety of fields.
What did you learn about yourself whilst studying your apprenticeship?
I came into this apprenticeship programme really excited about the design aspect, however when I became exposed to different departments, I learnt that what I enjoyed the most and found extremely fulfilling was project management and watching projects that I had led come to fruition. I learnt a great deal not only about my strengths and versatility but also what my areas of development were. Having the flexibility to shape the course of my apprenticeship helped me to work on those areas and become a well-rounded individual.
Who was your apprenticeship studied with and what discipline was this in?
I started my apprenticeship with Cavendish Nuclear, working as a CAD designer in the design office.
How has what you learned during your apprenticeship helped you in your career and progression?
During my apprenticeship I have really developed my leadership, management and communication skills. Rotating through various departments I have increased the breadth and depth of my knowledge. My roles have included liaising with key stakeholders from across the UK, project management and ensuring design tasks are carried out with strict financial and time constraints.
The opportunities that have been offered to me have really helped to further my career in an industry that I am very passionate about. Overall, I have really developed my confidence and honed key skills which are transferable and versatile to any working environment.

Alex Hedley, Level 5 Nuclear Technician Apprentice
Alex Hedley
Level 5 Nuclear Technician Apprentice
I have been with Cavendish Nuclear for just under 3 years. I have always enjoyed working with my hands and engineering related tasks. My main hobby has to be cars. I enjoy modifying my own car to improve its appearance and drive.
When did you first become interested in STEM subjects?
I always used to play with Lego and Meccano as a child and always liked taking things apart and putting them back together again.
I knew I wanted to get into engineering as a career after I completed a 2
week work experience at Babcock International Group.
How would you describe working for a STEM employer?
Working for a STEM company brings all the knowledge I learnt at school to reality. There are also plenty of opportunities to expand your
knowledge as well as inspire the younger generation.
What is it like working at Cavendish Nuclear?
Every day is different. I enjoy the fact that every project is different and presents a real variety of challenges and tasks. I also like the fact that I am not designing the same component day in day out, as it keeps my brain engaged and enables me to constantly learn new things.
We also get the opportunity to work in different areas of the business, sometimes engineering related, sometimes business related. For example, I did a placement within Learning and Development, which helped me understand the behind the scenes of my apprenticeship and also appreciate how a business works.
What are you enjoying most about your apprenticeship?
I enjoy learning whilst still getting essential experience in the workplace. Being in work 4 days a week learning the practical side of things helps add context to the theory I am learning each week at Loughborough college.
What has been your most memorable moment to date?
My most memorable moment so far is when I spotted a gap in my apprenticeship and managed to move myself and another apprentice from a Level 3 to a Level 5 apprenticeship with the full support from the business. I managed to help the company use the apprentice levy in doing so.
Why would you encourage school children / those at college to consider an engineering/science apprenticeship?
In my opinion, if you want to work in engineering, an apprenticeship is a very good path to follow, because you get to learn all about the subject whilst actually building a career in that sector. You’re also paid a salary whilst having your qualifications paid for you too!
Harry Clarke, Level 5 Nuclear Technician Apprentice
Harry Clarke
Level 5 Nuclear Technician Apprentice
I’m a third year electrical CAD apprentice currently studying towards my HNC. Out of work I enjoy playing the guitar, going to the gym and also in my free time I run and play badminton.
When did you first become interested in STEM subjects?
I first became interested in STEM subjects before I even started my GCSEs. When I was younger I would find it interesting taking things apart to have a look inside them to see how these things worked.
How would you describe working for a STEM employer?
Working for a STEM employer is interesting and enjoyable as there are a lot of opportunities that come about within these subjects. Working for a STEM employer allows me to use the skills I’ve learnt over the years and put them into practice.
What is it like working at Cavendish Nuclear?
Working for Cavendish Nuclear is great. For the first year it gave me the opportunity to learn many hands on skills such as hand fitting, machining and electrical installation.
Learning these core hands on skills has given me a really important appreciation so that when I design things, I now know whether it is physically possible to make the item with the techniques that are available.
There is a lot of support available within the workplace, whether that is from other apprentices or from managers to help with aspects of work and development. When in the workplace I feel we are treated just like anyone else and are a valued member of the team, we really are given the same level of work and experience as anyone else.
What are you enjoying most about your apprenticeship?
The thing I am enjoying the most about my apprenticeship is all of the development opportunities that are available to me such as getting the opportunity to shadow a sector board member or the Apprenticeship Development Programme where I met all of the other Cavendish Nuclear apprentices from across the country who are at the same stage of their apprenticeship as me and developed some key business skills such as time keeping, working within a team and presentation skills.
What has been your most memorable moment to date ?
My most memorable moment to date during my time at Cavendish Nuclear is being invited to represent Cavendish Nuclear at the House of Commons as well as a seminar and awards event nearby in London for Women in Nuclear UK.
Why would you encourage school children / those at college to consider an engineering/science apprenticeship?
I would definitely encourage students to consider an engineering/science apprenticeship. Being an apprentice opens the door into a career path and development opportunities that you wouldn’t get any other way. Being an apprentice allows you to learn all the skills you will need to do a job, all while working within that environment and getting the experiences.
Chloe Fountain, Mechanical CAD Designer and former apprentice.

Know someone interested in an apprenticeship at Cavendish Nuclear? Contact [email protected] or click here for more information.

Chloe Fountain
Mechanical CAD Designer
I enjoy spending time at home with my husband and somehow the DIY in the house is a never ending job! So that takes a lot of our time, making our house a home.
Other than that I like to play Badminton socially in the weeknights, and enjoy casual cycling too.
Everyone that knows me will know that I am mad about cats, I have two, they take a lot of my attention!
When did you first become interested in STEM subjects?
I left school and went on to a health and social care course… after about a month I decided this was not for me! I missed maths and physics, I guess that’s when I realised that a subject which used these would suit me. I always loved these subjects throughout my school life.
How would you describe working for a STEM employer?
It’s exciting, being a part of such a different work stream, people ask what I do and when you say engineer they are surprised and intrigued then when you say nuclear it really gets them interested!
What is it like working at Cavendish Nuclear?
It is great here, I have done so many training courses etc. and the development programme really bought me out of myself, I am much more outgoing than I was before I started. I have had a few placements and these have been useful in my progression. I am involved with a lot of extra activities and can’t believe some of the places these have taken me. This year I instigated national apprentice week so I really hope all the planning pays off although whatever does happen I will be happy that we are recognising it big this year.
What are you enjoying most about your apprenticeship?
I enjoyed everything really, from the beginning where we learnt the basic engineering operations in the workshop at college to creating 3D models, drawings and writing reports as part of the defuelling team. It has been a great 4 years with Cavendish Nuclear, I can’t wait to see where it can take me next.
What has been your most memorable moment to date?
I would have to say my most memorable moment was finding out that I had placed in the Top 50 women in engineering under 35 (2017), telling my manager with a massive grin on my face; I couldn’t believe it at all!
Why would you encourage school children / those at college to consider an engineering/science apprenticeship?
Its such a diverse industry, studying engineering can take you into all aspects not just one area, its great to see the difference it can make too. It’s a rewarding and interesting industry.