April 5, 2024


Jacob Alcock

Railway Engineer – Vital Rail 

Jacob participated in the Better Learners Better Workers programme whilst studying at Westfield School in 2015.

“ I joined the programme in 2015 whilst studying at Westfield School as I thought it might give me a better understanding of the jobs available in the engineering industry and what employers are looking for. I got the opportunity to carry out a work experience placement at a local company,(Straaltechniek UK Ltd) which I really enjoyed and it was interesting to see all the different departments. The programme also helped to develop my skills. I definitely improved my confidence and team working skills during the many visits and team building activities that we took part in.

This has helped me in my role within the rail industry, as I am always working as part of a team.  I have completed my 2 year apprenticeship in rail engineering and now have the opportunity to work all over the country. Some weeks I am in Doncaster and some weeks I am in St Albans or Newcastle.

My role includes various jobs such as track renewals, and drainage & cable pulling. I’ve also qualified as a first aider and a site warden which means I oversee health and safety and ensure people don’t go too close to the live running rails with trains coming past at up to 125mph.

I would like to thank the team at BLBW for giving me the opportunity and sparking my interest in Engineering”


Reece Woodhead

CNC Machining Apprentice – Straaltechniek UK Ltd

” I joined the BLBW programme in 2018 whilst studying at Yewlands Academy as I wanted to know more about job opportunities available to me after leaving school. I had a keen interest in Engineering already, but wanted to understand more about the Industry.

Whilst on the programme I was invited to an event and met the Chairman of Straaltechniek UK Limited, Graham Ward. We discussed the company and I told him I was interested in a career in Engineering and Graham invited me to come to the Company over the summer holidays and take part in some work experience. I did this and really enjoyed it. After this I met with the Company Managing Director Andy, and they offered me a job as a CNC Machining Apprentice. I have been with the Company since 2020 and my work includes setting and programming the machines, and measuring parts to tight tolerances(0.05mm) which are used in the shot blasting industry. Some of my main responsibilities are ensuring health and safety is carried out to the highest standard and our machine shop runs at its best efficiency. I will complete my 4 year advanced level 3 apprenticeship in December 2024 and am looking forward to seeing what the future holds in the Company.

Being part of the BLBW programme really helped to improve my communication, problem solving skills and the ability to work in a team.  This has helped me in my current role when working together to solve problems with the settings on the machines and giving me the confidence to work with new people.

Thanks to Sarah and the team at BLBW for their support ”


Marcus Scholey 

Apprentice Metallurgist – Sheffield Forgemasters

“I joined the BLBW programme back in 2017 whilst studying at Westfield school. I didn’t know what career path I wanted to take after school and I wanted some real-world experience of work life and industry and thought this programme could offer me that.

Although originally focusing on the Healthcare strand as part of the programme which is a different sector to the one I now work in, the programme helped provide me with transferable skills that I could take with me and continue to build on further down the line. This included teamworking, adaptability, communication and many others.

The programme also gave me the opportunity to meet many different employers and allowed me to network with other individuals associated with the Cutlers’ programme.

I now work at Sheffield Forgemasters as an Apprentice Metallurgist in the melting department. We manufacture some of the largest & most challenging steel components in the world and serve sectors such as defence, nuclear and steel processing. My role specifically involves assessing the processes and products associated with our steelmaking and casting processes used currently, to ensure we produce the cleanest, high quality steel possible for further processing. I feel I am more capable to do this role as I use a lot of skills that I first developed on the BLBW programme.

Thanks to everyone involved”


More Information on the Better Learners Better Workers Programme Here