29 July 2019

From automotive apprentice to mechanical engineering undergraduate – Jack’s story

Photo: Jack Sumner

Apprenticeships may not always be the direct route to a dream job but they can often open up a wealth of career ideas and opportunities that help to guide young people on the right path.

Jack Sumner from Wakefield had been sure from a young age that he wanted to work in engineering, and applied for an apprenticeship straight from sixth form. He was keen to leave full-time education and get into real work, and was thrilled when he found out he had won a place on the prestigious Jaguar Land Rover degree apprenticeship programme in 2016.

“To be working at the heart of the UK’s biggest automotive company and earning good money at 18 felt like the perfect opportunity.” says Jack. However, at the start of this year, almost three years into his apprenticeship at Jaguar Land Rover, he began to doubt whether he had made the right career move.

“Working full time while studying for a degree was extremely challenging,” he explains. “I moved from Wakefield to Leamington Spa for the apprenticeship, which meant my family and friends were only accessible in Yorkshire, at weekends – the best time for studying.

“A lecturer at the university told me, ‘work, study and a life - choose two’ and he was so right. My work and my family were both critical to me; all my personal support network was in Yorkshire, but I also loved my job as a facility engineer in Leamington Spa.”

After a great deal of thought, Jack decided to leave Jaguar Land Rover earlier this year. He had realised he couldn’t dedicate the time he needed to obtain the grades he knew he was capable of. “The Jaguar Land Rover scheme is undoubtedly a brilliant opportunity,” says Jack. “I learned a huge amount and flourished in my time there in many ways, as my friends and colleagues continue to do. It helped me to find my true direction and that involved making the difficult decision that the degree apprenticeship just wasn’t the right path for me.”

Jack reconsidered a university course, and, with his time at Jaguar Land Rover under his belt, the University of Huddersfield were quick to offer him a place on its highly respected mechanical engineering degree course starting in September this year.

In the meantime Jack is gaining an insight into wider aspects of engineering with a temporary role as a recruitment researcher in Leeds Manufacturing Festival sponsor The Works Recruitment’s engineering team. “The Works has been fantastic and working here has given me the passion to return to engineering. This role wasn’t what I ever expected to be doing but it has given me a real understanding of what the industry wants and has shown me the qualifications and experience I needed to get back into the engineering world.”

He adds: “I’ve also developed a whole new set of skills such as communication with candidates, networking, public speaking and it has definitely improved my confidence.”

Craig Burton, managing director at The Works Recruitment, says: “It’s for people like Jack that we are sponsoring this year’s Leeds Manufacturing Festival once again – to help young people see the excellent opportunities available in manufacturing, in Leeds and the region as a whole.

“Jack has brought so many young, fresh ideas to the table and when he heads off to university, which I’m sure will be the start of an extremely successful engineering career for him, the whole team will be very sad to see him go!”


Leeds Manufacturing

Secure a strong pipeline of employees


Careers in Manufacturing in Leeds

Secure your future, Britain needs You.

about us

About Leeds Manufacturing Festival

Raising the profile of manufacturing in Leeds