Ashford College

Natashia Whitewood


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Engineering & metal work group MJ Allen specialises in machining large complex sand castings, producing parts for the marine and medical industry as well as developing and producing an innovative all-wheel drive gearbox for the new Ford Transit. Their apprentice, Natashia Whitewood, is studying an Advanced Apprenticeship in Engineering Maintenance, which includes the Level 4 Higher National Certificate in Engineering.

Michelle Sinclair, the firm’s HR Manager says: “There is an ageing workforce in the castings and machining area and we’re one of the very few foundries left now in Kent. It’s only been within the last 10 years that we’ve realised the need to implement an apprenticeship programme and we’re really seeing the benefits.

"The scheme had worked successfully in our machine shop, so we implemented it more widely across the business.

“Natashia has come on in leaps and bounds. She is hugely efficient – and it has worked well for everybody. Our Head of Maintenance is very pleased with her progress and the whole team are really appreciative in having such an eager learner.”

Natashia adds: “I was working as a chef, but had decided that the catering industry wasn’t for me – the hours were fairly gruelling and I wanted my Christmas holidays back!

“Being part of the maintenance team offers very diverse work: installation, fault-finding, frame work, roof work, plumbing, welding and casting leak testing. And the requirement to provide evidence for my HNC gives me that extra push in my work.”
Being part of the maintenance team offers very diverse work