Posted on 10/02/23 by Rob Lucas

Once an Apprentice…

This week is #NationalApprenticeshipWeek, so I sat down with our Tom Gould to talk about his own apprenticeship.

Tom started out as an apprentice at Hine Labels nine years ago. Since then, he has stayed with the company and worked in a number of skilled roles in different parts of the business.

We went back in time to reflect on where he began and where he is now.

How did you discover the apprenticeship scheme?

Randomly. I wasn’t looking for it; I was looking for a job, so I think it was on or another job-hunting site when I saw Apprenticeships as an option.

What did you do before your apprenticeship at Hine?

I’d already done my A-Levels in Maths, Geography, and Geology at Thomas Rotherham College, and I’d started studying Public Services at Dearne Valley College.

So what options did you have, instead of doing an apprenticeship?

I wasn’t enjoying the Public Services course, it wasn’t something I really wanted to do. After studying Maths at A-Level, I couldn’t go to University, but I would have loved to study and gain a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics.

So you saw Apprenticeships as another way to learn and study. What was your apprenticeship at Hine?

It was for 2 years, starting in the warehouse. I eventually moved into the Finishing department, running our very first A B Graphic International Digicon machine. It did varnishing, laminating, and die cutting.

Young Tom

At the time, starting an apprenticeship was a way of getting paid while also studying. I wasn’t sure if an apprenticeship was for me but, once I started and I was here, it felt like I’d arrived at the right place. I’d made the right choice.

What happened after your apprenticeship at Hine?

I completed a Level 2 course in Warehousing and Storage. A tutor would regularly visit to check on my progress so, one day, I asked him what usually happens when an apprenticeship ends. I’d heard horror stories of apprentices being used as cheap temporary labour, but Hine wasn’t like that – I was offered the job I had already learned and enjoyed, and that made me feel secure in a company I really liked working with.

Later, I was given the opportunity to work in the Customer Service office, and I held that role for about 3 years. It was something new to try, and I was able to apply some of the knowledge I’d gained from working in the factory. I was glad for the opportunity, and the training provided was great. I remember having customer service training with Lee Marlow from Astrum Business Transformation, which was really good. I felt like I was invested in.

So where are you now?

Tom standing beside printer

I’m back in the factory and have been there for the last few years. It’s where I am most suited and feel at home! We have more finishing machines like the one I used to operate, but they are obviously more advanced now, and they all do slightly different things, so there’s always skills to hone. I like working with my hands.

You’ve stayed with Hine for almost a decade… What do you enjoy about working at Hine?

It’s a small family-owned business, so you don’t feel like you’re just a number. I have friends who work at big national companies, and they don’t have that personable family-feel, they don’t experience the culture I get to work in. Everybody is nice and supportive at Hine, and I feel recognised – I think that’s the best thing.

I love that I have become multi-skilled. My primary role is Label Finishing, but I’ve had opportunities to train on our bigger Digicon Series 3, which does all our premium label embellishments such as foil, multi-layer label conversion, and high-build textured varnishes.

I was included in the new training for our SCREEN Europe Truepress digital printing press in the second half of last year, so that’s something else I’ve been able to develop in my skillset.

Would you recommend becoming an apprentice?

Yes, definitely! Obviously, it’s not for everybody, but the same is said that university isn’t for everybody. People learn in different ways – I found the best fit for me. Nine years ago, I could not have imagined I’d be where I am now. Doing an apprenticeship was my best start, and I found the opportunities to succeed.

If you or somebody you know would like to become an apprentice, check out the website, Become an apprentice

If you have a company wanting to invest in the future of somebody like Tom, check out Employing an apprentice