Apprenticeships a helpful stepping stone to higher education

Heather Raymond installing guages for a pneumatic actuator onsite (002).jpg

As Apprenticeship Week Wales draws to a close, we’re pleased to have been able to share examples of how apprenticeship programmes enrich the lives of learners, and offers a helpful way to progress learning and work opportunities. 

Here, Pembrokeshire College Mechanical and Marine Engineering Curriculum Area Manager, William Bateman, shares details of one learner who aspires to complete a degree in Engineering. 


Heather Raymond 


Instrumental and Control Apprenticeship Level 3 


Pembrokeshire College 


“A second-year apprentice with Valero Oil Refinery, Heather currently attends Pembrokeshire College one day a week to complete her study towards the technical qualification where distinctions in each unit have been predicted.   

Heather works in the instrumentation department at Valero for the rest of the week where evidence is gathered towards the NVQ carrying out preventative and reactive maintenance. Heather produces exceptional work both practically and theoretically, with the external quality assurer for City & Guilds stating that Heather’s portfolio was the ‘the best seen in 25 years in the role’.  

Heather hopes to qualify in instrumentation and control by the end of the year and is looking to progress to the HNC in Instrumentation and Control in September 2022. From this, Heather wishes to complete a degree in engineering.   

Previous to gaining an Apprenticeship, Heather studied A levels at Milford Comprehensive before working with United Aerospace in the laminating workshop. Heather had a gap in education for 10+ years before gaining the Valero apprenticeship which she applied for at the age of 30.  

Heather really enjoys the Apprenticeship. It’s given her the opportunity to learn new skills as well as expanding on the mechanical skills she has learnt through riding and maintaining off-road motorcycles.  

The Valero Apprenticeship Scheme attracts a diverse range of individuals, while some apply directly from school, many of the apprentices have already gained substantial experience in a wide variety of sectors and this brings a unique dynamic to the Valero Apprenticeship which makes it very different to many other apprenticeship schemes.   

Recent changes have been made to the Scheme which enables it to really embrace this diversity and use it as a catalyst for the personal growth and development of its apprentices.   

Outside of her studies, Heather rides competitively in motorcycle trials throughout Wales thanks to the support of her sponsor Steve Plain Motorcycles. Heather has been riding for six years and has recently made a move to a more difficult level of competition.   

In the past, Heather has won in her class at competition events, has received the Best Female Rider Award at both Blood Bikes Wales and Narberth Classic Motorcycle Club events. Heather has also won the Jean Williams Memorial Trial and her class at the Welsh Multi-class Championships.”  


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