A Scottish teenager has made history by becoming the first female engineering apprentice at Nestlé’s Girvan factory.
Lucy McGeorge, 18, is following in the footsteps of her grandfather, Ronnie McCrindle, who was one of the first engineers to open up the confectionary giant’s chocolate factory in 1979.
McGeorge, from South Ayrshire, has completed her Performing Engineering Operations qualification and is currently working towards a National Certificate in Electrical Engineering. Her coach is technician Mark McIntyre – who was her grandfather’s apprentice.
“I’ve always had an interest in engineering – it’s the only career I’ve really been interested in and I really enjoy the combination of work and college life, earning and learning, that you get as an apprentice,” said Lucy.
“I am ‘Mark’s Apprentice’ and Mark was my grandfather’s apprentice. He’s been here 25 years and so his knowledge of the factory is amazing. He knows every part of every machine and where to find it in the inventory so I know I’m in good hands.”
The Grangestone Industrial Estate site now employs over 50 people and produces the chocolate crumb used in famous chocolates including Kit Kat, Aero and Breakaway.
Having completed five months of four-day-a-week college study, Lucy now spends the majority of her week working at the Girvan plant with one day in the classroom.
“No day is ever the same as the last and it never gets monotonous because there’s always something different to do,” she explained.
“For example, one of the machines was still running but had a broken part. Tearing it down to mend it would have taken two days but after a bit of thinking we were able to use a small inspection hatch to get access.
“It was only 20cm wide but we managed to get the job done and what could have taken two days was fixed in 10 minutes – you get great job satisfaction.”
Lucy’s engineering skills are undeniably genetic. While her father works elsewhere in Girvan, he’s also an engineer.
“I guess it’s a family tradition but I’m very happy here.
“The company has been really supportive, paying for my fuel when I was travelling 40 miles to college each day and giving me time for ‘homework’. My apprenticeship has been brilliant so far – the amount of opportunities is absolutely unreal.”
During this Scottish Apprenticeship Week, it was revealed that over 730 people completed Modern Apprenticeships in Scotland’s food manufacturing and processing industry in 2014.
For more information on undertaking a Modern Apprenticeship this Scottish Apprenticeship Week, go to www.scottishapprenticeshipweek.com, or get in touch with Skill Development Scotland, www.skillsdevelopmentscotland.co.uk. For further details on careers with Nestlé, head to www.nestlecareers.co.uk