Meet our apprentices

Apprentices are the lifeblood of businesses today and Bisley is no exception; we’ve employed and supported apprentices for over 20 years now. To celebrate our apprentices, we met up with some of them to find out more about their life at Bisley.

Today, we speak to Thomas Hulme. Thomas is in his third year of a Mechanical Engineering apprenticeship. He makes components for our machines in Powder Plant 3, where we manufacture our MultiDrawers and filing cabinets.

Can you give me a summary of what you do?
My main job is to make jigs, which are a type of component for our machines which control the location and motion of another tool.

What are your main responsibilities?
I focus on engineering machines rather than products. One of my main tasks is creating and modifying drawings so that I can get jigs and other parts made for the machines. I mainly focus on the smaller parts of the machines, I don’t work on anything too big.

Why did you want to work for Bisley?
I hadn’t heard of the company before, but I found the vacancy on the Careers Wales website. Once I did some research on Bisley, it seemed like a fantastic company to work for and I also heard some great things about it from other people. It seemed to have a really good reputation!

Was there anyone who inspired you to do an apprenticeship?
Although no one in particular inspired me to choose Mechanical Engineering, my dad encouraged me to look into doing an apprenticeship. He was a carpentry apprentice and really got a lot out of it. So, I started searching and liked the look of engineering the best. In the end, we didn’t choose the same career but we chose the same route.

So what made you choose to do engineering?
When I was at school, my favourite subjects were Resistant Materials and anything technology related. Engineering is very similar to these and there’s a lot of problem solving involved, which is something I really enjoy.

How much did you know about engineering before starting your apprenticeship?
I watched a few engineering videos on YouTube. It wasn’t anything too specific, mainly guys making different things, but it did really capture my interest.

How does that compare to what you know now?
I’ve learnt that it’s not as easy as it looks! There’s always different problems you have to overcome and it always challenges you to think outside the box.

Is there anything that surprised you when you started your apprenticeship?
How much goes into manufacturing all the different products. There’s so many little details to think about. When you look at a cabinet, you wouldn’t know all the thought that is put into it, but there’s constant changes and improvements being made to our products.

What would you do on a typical day?
Usually, I’ll be working on making tables that are used to measure different parts for machines. This can be used on anything like metal assembly and measuring doors. It’s the third table I’ve made, so I have quite a lot of experience with these.

How do you break down your job and handle all the tasks you’re given?
You just have to approach it one job at a time. You can’t tackle it all at once and still expect your tasks to be completed correctly, you have to think about them all on an individual basis. Once you’ve done one task, you can move on and do the next. It sounds simple but it really works!

What’s your favourite product and why?
Since I play an active role in making the products that come from Powder Plant Three, I’d say anything from there is my favourite. I like it when I get the chance to get involved and you get to see how my contribution helped create a product.

What object or tool could you not live without at work?
Solid Edge, which is software I use to make models. It makes my life a lot easier because would be a lot harder to try and visualise the models and parts I’m making without it.

Describe your perfect holiday.
Probably New Zealand to see the places where Lord of the Rings was filmed.

If you could be any animal in the world, what would you be and why?
I’d like to be a dog, because they’re always happy. I have a Golden Labrador, he’s so old but he’s still like a puppy!

Is there anything else you’d like to add about apprenticeships?
It’s definitely an option worth considering. I think it’s a great idea because it’s a different but varied and hands on way of learning.