With vocational training rapidly growing in popularity as an alternative to university, an increasing number of students are looking to apprenticeships as a way to gain the skills and training needed to kick start their careers.
The micromobility sector, which has seen a boost in the UK since the government gave the go-ahead for e-scooter trials, is one industry where new jobs are being created. They offer a blend of traditional and high-tech skills with a focus on sustainability that is becoming increasingly important as the UK looks to embrace a net-zero future.
Neuron Mobility is committed to improving many aspects of the communities they operate in, not just by offering safe and sustainable transport solutions, but by helping to grow local economies and also providing new skills and opportunities for local workers. In Newcastle, the company has been running an innovative apprenticeship scheme offering opportunities for young people to work and study simultaneously. The apprentices learn new skills that cut across sustainable engineering, logistics and transport planning, working and learning from experts to set them up for a future career in micromobility.
To mark National Apprenticeship Week, an annual week-long celebration of apprenticeships, two of Neuron’s apprentices, Zak Moore and Adam Maher from Newcastle, share their experiences of what it’s like to be an apprentice in the micromobility sector and their aspirations for the future.
Getting into an apprenticeship in micromobility
Because the micromobility industry is so new neither of us specifically thought about applying for an apprenticeship with Neuron, but when it was recommended to us by our college, and we learned a little more, it sounded like a great opportunity. I guess you could say it’s fate that we ended up at Neuron! But now that we’re around six months into the job we’re really enjoying it, learning a lot, and feel really lucky we joined their apprenticeship programme.
Learning skills in a new sector
Because the micromobility sector is so new, everyone is learning to some degree and there is a real opportunity to work collaboratively with the team. It’s an excellent work environment, and fantastic company culture, and one thing that’s been great is how welcoming everyone’s been. Coming from mechanical and electrical engineering courses at college, the apprenticeships have provided us with an opportunity to better our technical skills, but it’s also helped us to improve our communication skills and generally build up confidence in a commercial environment.
An average day as an e-scooter apprentice
The mornings get underway with battery management, sorting the empty batteries that have been collected overnight, and then charging them for the day ahead. Then we usually spend some time inspecting the e-scooters, helping with the maintenance and repairs. Safety is really important at Neuron, it is a major focus area that runs right through the company, so we’ve been learning a lot about keeping them in top condition. We are becoming experts in how e-scooters work and often provide valuable feedback to the team on what could be improved.
We also regularly go out with the van drivers to help distribute the e-scooters to where they are needed most in the city and we’ve even been out to attend Scootsafe events. These are rider education activities where we get to talk to the public about how to stay safe on the e-scooters and how important it is to follow the rules. It’s great speaking to people about how they find the e-scooters, and how many riders have come to rely on them for getting around.
And they’re clearly really popular with people of all ages. Going around the city you see people riding them in suits on their way to work, as well as people taking them to college, or back from the shops. There’s not really one demographic that uses them.
Skills for the future
We’ve learned so much in the first six months, and we have another two and a half years to go. By the end of the apprenticeship we’ll come out with valuable knowledge in a new type of industry that not a lot of people are working in. The skills we’re developing will open up a wide range of future career possibilities across all kinds of Electric Vehicles, but at the moment we’re keen to stay in micromobility to see where it develops in the future.
Even though the apprenticeship with Neuron wasn’t something we immediately considered, we feel happy to have taken up the opportunity. Since joining it’s been an amazing experience, and we’re looking forward to increasing our skills even more during the remaining two and a half years of the programme! For those considering an apprenticeship, we’d recommend looking at micromobility, it seems like the industry is going to become increasingly important in the UK over the coming years.