MTC Training alumni Rishi Chohan was one of the very first apprentices to be enrolled on our apprenticeship programme! Ten years on, Rishi hasn’t only completed his mechanical apprenticeship, but he’s also achieved his HNC, an engineering degree with Warwick University and was awarded Technician of the Year in MTC’s first ever annual awards programme.

Now with a decade of service at the MTC under his belt, he tells us all about how his apprenticeship has been the bedrock of a fruitful engineering career and the opportunities the business has given him. If you’re an apprentice looking for equal success, he has some useful tips for you and how to make the most of your training!

Why did you choose to do an apprenticeship?

When I completed my A-levels, I had the challenging decision of deciding which route to take to enter a career of engineering: a university degree, or an apprenticeship.

Whilst there’s pros to each, there were a few key factors that swayed me towards the apprenticeship with the MTC. Firstly, whilst I didn’t mind academia, my interest in engineering was more biased toward practical activities, and I always enjoyed learning through physical practice. The apprenticeship presented an opportunity that encompassed a mix of practical training, academia, and actual on-the-job experience and responsibilities.

The MTC also offered sponsorship into further education. This particularly appealed to me, as I could have the best of both worlds. When combining these factors together, with the ability to earn a salary, the apprenticeship route seemed the best fit for me. 

Did you have a particular career in mind when you made your decision? If so, what and why?

When I was younger, I’d marvel over the design and engineering behind race cars, and this fuelled the idea of entering the field of design and engineering. So in school, I took the subjects that were most relevant to engineering and would enable me to enter onto a degree or apprenticeship in motorsport or automotive engineering.

I was set to go to university to study motorsport engineering, however I came across the MTC Training apprenticeship. The workshop manager showed me around and I was amazed at the different technology and facilities. I also vividly remember a Formula 1 car hanging from the ceiling as you entered the building, although sadly this is not here anymore!

The opportunity to get exposure to the diverse range of sectors and face the different challenges that come with each, using the MTC’s remarkable facilities, provided a very appealing prospect for doing an apprenticeship.

What journey has your career looked like since completing your apprenticeship?

Ten years on from starting my apprenticeship, I’ve had the opportunity to undertake varied roles, which has been fantastic for developing a diverse skillset. Towards the end of my apprenticeship, I focused on subtractive manufacturing using CNC machining. As a qualified technician, I had the chance to get involved in many exciting and challenging cross-industry projects.

I’ve spent time in design, using my manufacturing experience to help consult on Design for Manufacture (DfM), which I thoroughly enjoyed! With the experience of DfM, I progressed to Manufacturing Engineer, focusing on the strategy and method of manufacture for making components, and supervising and leading the manufacturing stages.

Following this, I became Operations Leader for the Subtractive Manufacture Team, focusing on the day-to-day delivery and management of the team.

Most recently, I have transitioned from the workshop into the wider business, working in Project Management, a great opportunity for me to broaden my skillset even further, but also use my manufacturing experience and knowledge of MTC to help deliver projects successfully.

With the support of MTC, I undertook a four-year part time engineering degree with Warwick University and graduated in 2022, so I’ve really come full circle and managed to tick both my apprenticeship and degree box!

How has the apprenticeship programme been beneficial to you and your career?

The apprenticeship programme has ultimately built the foundations of my career, enabling me the opportunities to experience so many different things and progress professionally. Not only that, but it’s also helped me to develop and grow as person, meet many great people, and create several close friends across industry.

What would you say are the benefits of an apprenticeship and the MTC Training apprenticeship programme?

A fundamental benefit for me was to start building experience early on in my career and to start earning. The programme allowed the ability to be trained across engineering technologies and disciplines, then focus in a particular area. The benefit of doing this with the MTC is the amazing facilities and equipment we have access to.

Another benefit of the MTC programme was the ability to further my development through sponsored education. I went on to complete a HNC during my apprenticeship. After finishing my apprenticeship, I was sponsored for a four-year part-time degree with Warwick University.

How did you manage to balance studying alongside your professional role?

Balancing studying alongside working can be challenging. I found learning with friends useful because the teamwork allows you to overcome challenges together which speeds up the process.

Dedicating time aside for studying is really important. I personally found I studied better in the evenings; others preferred to start early and have the rest of the day free. It was difficult to find the motivation to start studying after a day’s work or on the weekend sometimes, but doing small bits consistently really helps.

You do have to be prepared to give up personal time to study and complete assignments. Small consistent efforts to keep on top of things will help relieve pressure and ensure you meet your deadlines. Think of the end goal!

What do you believe you got from your apprenticeship that you may not have from traditional routes of further education?

Having completed both an apprenticeship and a degree, I am in good position to compare the two. Ultimately, the apprenticeship gave me on-the job experience in parallel with academic training, which I would not have been able to experience via a degree alone. In many ways, it gave me a head start to my career, providing me with an early grounding of technical and practical knowledge, combined with an understanding of how the company operates. This set a strong foundation for me to excel my career from.

My degree taught me the theoretical side of engineering and operations, in great depth, allowing me to apply it to the company with the experience I had already gained from the apprenticeship and employment.

In my scenario, the two complemented each other.

What advice would you give to someone thinking about taking on an apprenticeship?

Apprenticeships are a great way to kick start your career and gain upfront experience. However, the choice of whether to take on an apprenticeship is very dependent on the individual and their circumstance.

Although it took longer, I had valuable workplace experience compared to peers who went to university, and I didn’t have the debt of tuition fees. But on the other hand, my university experience was very different to those who moved away from home and immersed themselves in the university culture.

Try and evaluate which avenue is better suited to the career/industry you are interested in, your aspirations, and your personality/learning style!