Continuing on with National Apprenticeship Week 2022, IQ caught up with Clive Whittle, Site Engineer of Imerys Minerals Ltd, to give an insight into how an apprenticeship can fuel a long-term career in the quarrying and extractives industry.With an impressive 47 years working in the quarrying and extractives industry, Clive started his career as an Apprentice Fitter. Clive was inspired by a family member in the same trade who he looked up to, influencing him to begin his career as a Mechanical Apprentice.
Clive spent the first full year of his apprenticeship at college, where he studied City & Guilds first year. The qualification consisted of learning the basics of working with metal, which included lathe turning, milling and sheet metal work. The apprenticeship even offered Clive with an additional evening class on motor vehicle studies.
Following on from his first year, Clive completed three years of studying in the form of off the job training, for one day each week. This allowed for Clive to gain a first-hand experience of the workplace within the remaining four days of the week.
The company Clive worked for also had a very comprehensive social aspect. This involved activities football, darts, judo and photography, with many more activities available as part of a 'Mental Health Management Process' scheme. “The activities helped employees to release energy after a long day of work, whilst promoting collaboration and teamwork".
According to Clive, the most important lessons he gained from his time as an apprentice was "learning from colleagues and making use of their skills, knowledge and support. I became involved in as many different projects and new initiatives as possible, allowing me to broaden my own knowledge and understanding of the industry and the role I was in. At the end of my apprenticeship, I was encouraged to continue learning, which I initially did by attending Quarry Plant Manufacturer courses".
After several years in the maintenance side of the industry, Clive started management and safety training whilst at work. From there, Clive completed an NVQ Level 4 in three subjects, including Mechanical Maintenance, Management, and Safety, Health and Environment (SHE 4).
"The NVQ studies started off in my own time, but the support in getting experience of the various competences was arranged by my employer. The process allowed me to network with other companies and many people within the industry”.
Clive (pictured on the left) winning the Pairs First Aid competition in the China Clay Association as a member of the WBB Company Team.
During the same time, Clive trained and joined the company safety team, which was associated with Mines Rescue. Within this team, Clive was able to travel to various locations, such as Germany, Ireland and many locations in the South West of England.
Clive was promoted through various positions within the industry, including being responsible Maintenance and Engineering for three Quarry sites within Devon. In addition to this, Clive has also served as Chairman of the IQ Devon & Cornwall Branch during his career.
After 38 years of working at his first company, Clive was unfortunately made redundant. Luckily, due to the skills and knowledge he had learnt over years of experience, he was quickly able to get another job within the industry. "My skills were all transferable, this included the formal qualifications and IQ membership that were recognised.
Now working as a Site Engineer, Clive's day-to-day role involves management of work flows and planning maintenance repairs, along with supervision of contractors and team members.
Clive said "Overall, I'd highly recommend an apprenticeship. The apprenticeship placed me in good stead for a long career within the industry, offering me the flexibility to adapt easily and move from role to role. With apprenticeships, you can learn a broad range of knowledge and skills that can be hard to replicate when it comes to alternative routes into the industry".