Tayyib Choudhry, 18, is a Siddall STEM Champion, a role named after and supported by Graham and Brenda Siddall. Graham a retired Silicon Valley CEO who grew up in Attercliffe in the 1950s, and whose life was changed by an apprenticeship. 

Graham and Brenda have thrown their full support behind the University of Sheffield AMRC Training Centre, promoting STEM and engineering apprenticeships to the local communities through Siddall STEM Champions like Tayyib, an engineering technician at AESSEAL who prides himself on having a strong work ethic.

Having worked in takeaways alongside his dad throughout his time at school, Tayyib, from Rotherham, says he was ‘essentially an apprentice’ before he’d even started an apprenticeship. After covid lockdowns changed the way he received an education, Tayyib says his ‘heart started moving more towards work’. Once the lockdowns eased and he went back to college, he found the readjustment challenging, and after seeing the AMRC Training Centre he thought it could work out well for him. Since being accepted, and dropping out of college, Tayyib says he’s never looked back.

Coming from a working-class, immigrant Asian household, Tayyib is filled with inspiration from his family. His grandad came to the UK in the 1960s, becoming a bus driver, before moving to Sheffield to work in one of the forge factories.

 “Since a young age, the work ethic has been constantly instilled into me. With my grandparents being working class, it really inspired and pushed me to go and work,” said Tayyib.

“When I look at them, they came into the country with absolutely nothing and created something so big for themselves. I always think back to my grandad whenever I’m doing something - he took that risk. Pursuing this apprenticeship was a big risk for me, but I think it’s working out just fine.”

Discipline and work ethic, to Tayyib, are two key features of an apprenticeship. “If your company sees that you're well-disciplined and punctual, they'll see you as a valuable employee, and you'll shine out,” he said.

“With an apprenticeship, there is that expectancy that you’re being the best that you can be at all times. The training centre expects you to do your best as well. You’re constantly getting pushed, whether it's from your managers or the training centre team, to be the best version of yourself.

“There are also people relying on you. The further you go on in your apprenticeship, the more people are relying on you. As a teen, having that much responsibility on your shoulders, it sets you up for later on in life and lets you handle difficult situations you'll face.

“It speaks for itself later on in your career because if you have the education behind yourself, work experience, and a good reference, then, I think you're set for a very rewarding career in engineering.”

Juggling an education, work, and social life, Tayyib says is a challenge. He said: “You’re starting work every day at 8am, or in my case 6am. So, you have to have that good night’s sleep, and you have to sacrifice social events and occasions, but it gives you a bit of responsibility. 

“And also, you’re handling money; you have your own wage. Whether you spend it on going out or car insurance, you’re gaining your independence. It’s very important and it helps you grow up. “Because you’ve worked for it, you’re a lot more appreciative of it. And you can’t keep running to mum and dad because they expect you to have that money now that you’re earning yourself; you’re standing on your own two feet.”

Tayyib’s advice to anyone thinking about undertaking an apprenticeship is to ‘advocate for yourself.

 “Show them that you have a passion for the job, and if you get into something and realise it isn’t for you, take the risk and do something else. Try to move around within your company; don’t be afraid,” said Tayyib.

“Everyone said to me, ‘don’t drop out of college’ and guess what I did? I dropped out of college. It was the biggest risk I’ve ever taken so far, but now I’m not looking back and I’m much happier. Honestly, in my first few weeks I was thinking, ‘is this for me?’ but I wasn’t afraid to speak up and say, ‘maybe I want to move around the company and do something else’. 

“If you don’t ask, you don’t get. Be confident with yourself; at the end of the day the training centre is flexible, they have so many different courses you can join, and your company’s flexible because they have so many different job roles, so they will give you a chance.

“I’m a very strong advocate for apprenticeships because I think they bring something to the table that universities and colleges aren’t able to do.”