Tammie is keen to encourage other women to choose a career in engineering
With a focus on learning practical, on-the-job skills, an apprenticeship in Cumbria was the perfect choice for Tammie.
“I always knew that I wanted to do an apprenticeship,” she said. “I’ve had a pair of overalls from being really young and I’ve always enjoyed messing with stuff at my dad’s allotment and being practical with my hands.
“It was great to be taught the knowledge and practical skills side by side with an apprenticeship, and I studied for my NC [National Certificate] and HNC [Higher National Certificate] at Furness College over the four years.
“For the first year of the apprenticeship, I was in the Skills Centre learning practical skills, and during the second, third and fourth year, I was out on the shop floor working on different assets.
“I spent time on a converting asset and on a paper machine to see which I liked best as they’re very different, and I prefer converting.
“In the second and third year, I shadowed members of staff and was given projects to work on.
“You get much more independence towards the end of the fourth year, and I was left to work on my own which led really well into my job as a technician and helped me a lot. You’re trusted with your work but no one will ever let you struggle and everyone has always got time to help you at Kimberly-Clark.”
Tammie is keen to educate other young people in Cumbria about the opportunities available to them – particularly young women who are considering a career in engineering.
“I knew there were opportunities in the area with the likes of Kimberly-Clark, GSK and BAE Systems, so I’d encourage others to go to careers fairs and events to find out more and do their research,” she said.
“Our apprentice training team often go into schools to tell pupils about the range of opportunities on offer.
“We’re keen to encourage more girls to get into engineering, and being a woman is no barrier to success. To my colleagues, I’m not ‘Tammie the girl’, I’m ‘Tammie the electrician’.
“I hope girls see other women in engineering, like I did at Kimberly-Clark, and feel like they can do it too.”
After serving her time as an apprentice, Tammie was offered the role of Electrical Technician to continue her career at Kimberly-Clark.
“It’s a big step from apprentice to technician, but it helped massively to be left on my own a bit towards the end of my apprenticeship,” she said.
“On a typical day, we have a morning meeting to pick up issues from the past 24 hours and spend the rest of the morning working on them.
“If everything is running smoothly, I work with an engineer on other projects, such as asset improvement, in the afternoons. I still use the hands-on knowledge I gained during my apprenticeship, but we also spend time working on a laptop as technology moves on.
“In the future, I’d like to stay within engineering as there’s lots of paths you can go on.
“I’d always keep a base in Cumbria but I’d like to travel to other Kimberly-Clark sites in Europe.
“The women that have gone before me at Kimberly-Clark are great role models and some are now members of the senior leadership team. In Barrow and in the wider company, women are doing really, really well.”
After years of earning while learning with her apprenticeship, Tammie is now in the position to afford her own property in Cumbria.
“I’ve bought a house in Barrow with my partner, which is so exciting, and I wouldn’t have been able to do that without my apprenticeship,” she said. “I also got a new car recently, and you can accommodate things like that with earning while you learn.
“I can’t see myself living anywhere else outside of Cumbria. So many people pay to come on holiday to Cumbria and we only live half an hour from The Lake District.
“We’re not that far from the motorway, either, to get to Manchester and other cities.
“People sometimes don’t realise what’s here in Cumbria and the Furness Peninsula, but I think it’s brilliant.”