Working as an apprentice at Cambridge Water

Posted: 5 February 2024

This week is National Apprenticeship Week, a chance for us to celebrate the value, benefits and opportunities that apprenticeships can bring.


Each year we have opportunities to join our organisation on a three-year apprenticeship scheme, providing bright young individuals with experience working in a practical environment as well as education, all on a competitive salary.

We spoke to Production Technician Jake Grove about his experience with the company, why an apprenticeship was the logical first step in his career and how he got to where he is today.

How did your apprenticeship start with Cambridge Water? 

I applied for a three-year apprenticeship in September 2017 via the UK Government website. The apprenticeship with Cambridge Water was very local to me; at the time I lived five minutes from the Fulbourn Road office.

I did a Level 4 HNC (Higher National Certificate) in Electrical and Electronic Engineering. The HNC took two years, whilst the apprenticeship took three years overall.

I’ve now moved on to a degree apprenticeship which is a technical apprenticeship that I’m doing whilst carrying out my role as a Production Technician at Cambridge Water.

How has your apprenticeship developed the skills required for a rewarding career in water?

University has provided me with a very in-depth theoretical understanding, whilst shadowing colleagues at work has allowed me to apply this theory in the workplace. Some of my studies may not be used every day, but many other units relate well to my daily work.

Doing these apprenticeships has allowed me to meet and speak to apprentices from many different sectors and see how they interact with the course. 

Away from university, learning about the control systems on pumping stations has been invaluable and has set me up well for a career in the water industry.  

What did the first year look like in your apprenticeship?

In the first year, I rotated around different departments to get a feel for each side of the business. Through this experience, I found that Operational Technology appealed to me the most. Operational Technology is responsible for the control systems that run pumping stations and treatment works. I worked In the OT department for six years before changing jobs within the business to become a Production Technician. This job entails the day-to-day operation and maintenance of these pumping stations and treatment works.

I was then asked if I wanted to go on any more courses and I decided to choose a part-time degree apprenticeship in Electrical and Electronic Engineering, which I will finish this summer after four years of study.

What's the difference between an apprenticeship and a normal job? 

When you first start, your only focus is to learn. Starting a new job, you can be expected to be useful almost immediately.

When I first started, I am sure I caused a greater amount of work for the team around me in order to teach me – particularly for my mentor, Matthew Ward. As time went by, I became more useful and grew into the role as I learned. You start with less responsibility and gradually gain more as you reach full speed. 

Would you recommend apprenticeships to other young people considering it? 

Yes, I think it’s good if you prefer a more practical approach to learning rather than just being in the classroom. Having the experience of touching and interacting with a control system paired with a day a week learning the theoretical side has really enabled me to become a valuable member of the team.