We speak to Olivia, an apprentice HGV mechanic at RHA members R Swain and Sons based near Manchester, about her career so far and what she enjoys about working in logistics.
Could you tell us a bit about yourself?
My name is Olivia Kavanagh and I’m an apprentice HGV mechanic at R Swain and Sons. I work on the vehicles that we have in our fleet, as well as those from other companies we have acquired.
How did you get into the industry?
I decided after I completed my GCSEs that I wanted to do an apprenticeship, as opposed to the regular route of going to sixth form and then university. I knew I wanted to do something practical, as I enjoy the process of fixing what’s broken and seeing it able to function again afterwards. I applied for this apprenticeship with my GCSE grades and a general interest in the industry, and I am now in my second year.
What are the benefits of being an apprentice?
If you like doing physical work, an apprenticeship can be the way to go. You get paid while you learn and gain hands-on experience.
What does your average working day consist of?
I start my day by tidying the workshop, so it is safe for everyone to be working in. After this, I am often paired with a qualified technician to assist and learn. We get trailers and tractor units coming into our workshop, so the jobs can vary from day to day.
What skills do you need for your role?
To come into this role, you should have an aptitude and passion for practical work. I came into this job with no prior vehicle knowledge, but everything you need to know is taught whilst on the apprenticeship.
What makes your role specialist?
A lot of the jobs we do, many people wouldn’t feel comfortable doing to a car by themselves let alone on a truck. If parts aren’t fitted correctly, many things can go wrong so therefore a good understanding of vehicle systems is needed to repair a vehicle and make it safe to be on the road again.
What kinds of tools do you use?
For diagnostics, we have a tablet which uses software to read and investigate fault codes on vehicles. For jobs such as changing brakes, regular hand tools and air tools are still the most commonly used.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
So far, I have enjoyed seeing my progression, and working on the diagnostics jobs that require a lot of thinking.
What advice do you have for people looking to start a career in logistics?
My advice would be if it’s something you have an interest in, and can see yourself happy with, find a way. Find out what’s needed and apply. It’s a great industry with so many amazing people that you’ll get to know.
What are your plans for the future?
In the future I hope to see myself progressing even further, and learning the new systems that are introduced to heavy goods vehicles. I'd like to be making people aware of the apprenticeship route, especially women who may be interested but don't have the information required to get started.