My name is Laurie-Anne Benner I’m a Reality Engineer for PEME. I work up and down the country and we also have projects across the world. I’m a mechanical engineer, but I also work in condition based monitoring. So that can thermal imaging, oil analysis and vibration. So we’re working in preventative maintenance to reduce break downs and down time. We’re a contracted company and we work in blue chip factories across the country, including well know sugar manufacturer, pet foods, so it’s all processing factories that we work in.
My father works for Princes’ and he’s worked there for 24 years so he got me interested in the processesing side and my husband is a plant mechanic so he got me interested in the engineering side. My granddad always told me you have to have a trade. I applied to college with West Anglia, they had an advertisement in the local newspaper for apprenticeships with engineering and through college with the West Anglia PEME contacted me and from there I went to an interview stage and I got the placement within PEME.
When I was at school to be honest I didn’t know what I wanted to do. Throw my GCSEs I didn’t have a clear career pathway that I wanted to go down an I went through A-Levels and I still wasn’t sure. I attended a few career open day in Norwich to try and get some ideas and talking to my father, my grandfather and my husband I became interested in what he was doing, engineering as he was going through his apprenticeship at the time.
At my school if you didn’t get all A stars you weren’t good enough. I wasn’t an A Star student and I was basically told that my only option was forces. I’ve done an interview with my school magazine which is going out this year, saying the opportunities that there are within apprenticeships and how I’ve done with my career. I don’t think that many people thought I was able to go into this sort of career and especially not do as well as I have so.
I did a short term week and University as a taster and it wasn’t the right atmosphere and it wasn’t the best way for me to learn. I’m very hands on and I wanted to get the practical experience in a job and I also wanted a chance to earn the money while I’m learning. I myself are 21, my husband is 23 and at a very young age we were able to afford things that most people wouldn’t at our age.
There’s a wide range in the engineering sector that I could have gone into but my main focus was processing. The processing industry is fantastic, what they can do and the new technology that is coming out. PEME have set out a career pathway for me and there are a large number of opportunities with the sites we have, we have opportunities across the world.
For me there aren’t any ordinary days, one day I could be doing mechanical maintenance, the next day I could be doing a thermal imaging survey or electrical panels and the day after that I could be setting up a computerised SAP or SHIRE system.
So the first year at college was full time, the second year was part time at college; the third year was full time on site. University is for some people but the opportunities you have in an apprenticeship, you’re able to earn the money while you’re learning, you’re able to have your qualifications as your working and you’ve to the experience that you’re building with your onsite mentors who have been in this job for more years than you’ve probably been alive so you’re getting the experience from them, which is really important. I’m glad I took this path, it’s a fantastic career and I love what I do.