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Scotland’s top apprentice has had a momentous year – from working through the pandemic to winning the top award and being one of the first people in the country to complete a Graduate Apprenticeship.

However, welcoming his first child to the world has topped all his career achievements.

Samir was named Graduate Apprentice of the Year and Scotland’s Apprentice of the Year at the Scottish Apprenticeship Awards in March this year.

Throughout the pandemic Samir stepped up during his apprenticeship at Thales and took over the nightshift with the Manufacturing team to support making PPE for NHS frontline workers.

When asked about how it felt to do his Engineering Design and Manufacturing Graduate Apprenticeship during the pandemic, Samir said: “I have felt that lockdown has produced some of my best work, it also gave me the opportunity to help our NHS out which made me feel like I was doing my part during a pandemic.

“I think this can probably be said for all engineers and people in a similar situation where they have needed to step up and produce.  You just need to look at the NHS for the best example of that.”

Apprenticeship opened doors

The former Modern Apprentice began his Graduate Apprenticeship in 2017 and recently attended a special ceremony at Thales to celebrate completing his apprenticeship.

Graduate Apprenticeships were introduced in 2016 and Samir is one of the first to have completed.

The celebrations were two-fold, as he has also just welcomed his first child into his family.

Samir said: “I am now sitting here with a degree, a job that I love and two awards I never thought I would achieve so early, thinking “this is only the start and what is next?”. The Graduate Apprenticeship has opened so many doors and widened my engineering network.

“It has now started to sink in that I have a degree and, on reflection, looking back at the hours I spent trying to balance my career, football and family life, it was all worth it. However, seeing my son smile is beyond anything else I will ever achieve.”

More than a degree

Speaking about his apprenticeship journey and experiences, Samir said: “It has been the mentoring and the knowledge that I have gained that means the most to me and not actually having the degree.

“I owe a lot to the people in Thales that have helped me along the way since starting in the company 2012 and the people that have pushed me to do more and better any work done previously.

Samir added: “I look at my degree as more of a tool to help unlock some different career paths rather than something I can say I have. I do, however, feel that it will help me in my career immensely.”

Looking to the future

Looking to his future, Samir has new learning and development aspirations within his career at Thales. He said: “My short-term goal is to apply for IEng with IMechE, which I have been working on recently which I wouldn’t have even thought about without the Graduate Apprenticeship.

“Also, being one of the first to complete this Graduate Apprenticeship, I want to help those that are currently in the process of completing and help drive them to success.”

As for long term goals, the Graduate Apprenticeship has opened up more opportunities for Samir. He explained: “Completing my Graduate Apprenticeship means I now have options to pursue many roles in Thales as having a degree is a minimum entry requirement. I no longer have barriers in place and instead have a wide range of opportunities.”

Scottish Apprenticeship Awards

Do you work with an outstanding Foundation, Modern or Graduate Apprentice like Samir? Then visit apprenticeships.scot to find out more about the categories and how to nominate.

The deadline for nominations is noon on Wednesday, 27 October 2021 and winners will be revealed during Scottish Apprenticeship Week, which takes place from 7-11 March 2022.

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