Apprentice profile: Lucy Smith

Lucy Smith in front of the blast furnaces
Technical Degree Apprentice Lucy Smith at the blast furnaces

Lucy Smith is a 4th-year technical degree apprentice who has given us an insight into her trainee scheme and how she is finding it.

What is your role?

“During my apprenticeship I’ve moved around many different plant areas to develop my knowledge and skills across the whole site. These placements include – training within the Apprentice Training Centre, Occupational Hygiene Department, Environmental Department, Central Safety, Process Safety, Fuel Department, Blast Furnaces, Product Metallurgy, Appleby Coke Ovens and the Material, Sampling and Testing (MST) Department.

“I’m now in the final 6 months of my apprenticeship and have returned to the Blast Furnaces to hopefully progress into a full-time position here.”

Why did you choose to work for British Steel?

“I chose to work at British Steel because they offer amazing apprenticeship and training opportunities. British Steel is world famous for its high-quality products and commitment to the continuous development of the global steel market. I wanted to be a part of that, especially because I have grown up in Scunthorpe and the steelworks has always been the beating heart of the town.”

How would you describe the culture of British Steel and how you fit into it?

“British Steel is a very traditional company and the skill and knowledge of employees have been passed down in many cases from generation to generation.

“The fundamental process of manufacturing steel has remained the same for many years and the company as a whole radiates pride, passion and performance. As a younger employee at the company starting out my career in the industry, I feel I’m contributing to keeping this tradition alive.”

How do you think your role at British Steel will help with your future career goals?

“From having the opportunity to move around different plant areas it has helped me discover which process interests me the most and where I could picture myself progressing in my career.

“I have found where my passion lies – ironmaking at the Blast Furnaces. Now that I’ve returned to the furnaces I hope that I can progress in my career within this department.

“I’m a professional technician member of the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining (IOM3) and with the experience I’ve gained on plant, I’m currently writing my Professional Review Report to become a registered EngTech with the engineering council, with an end goal of becoming a Chartered Engineer. This would not be possible without the career path I’ve taken within British Steel.”

What do you think is the best thing about working for British Steel?

“The best bit about working for British Steel is that no two days are the same. I am constantly learning new things and experiencing different operational scenarios on a day to day basis.

“For example one day I could be helping out on a blast furnace ‘down (maintenance) day’, removing and replacing a tuyere (a crucial part of an operating blast furnace) on the furnace and the next day I could be at the top of one of the furnaces in full breathing apparatus carrying out important inspections.”

What is the most challenging this about working for British Steel?

“At British Steel, the process can change in an instant out on plant. This mean you have to think on your feet very quickly to resolve a problem as soon as possible without impacting production or the quality of the products being produced. However, I really enjoy the challenge and the fast-paced nature of the job.”

Can you describe British Steel in 3 words?

“Fresh, bright and determined.

“I’ve chosen these words because even though the steelworks have been here in Scunthorpe since the 1800s, British Steel is a new company that has already demonstrated the positive impact it can make in the steel industry.”

Have you got any advice for people currently applying to work for British Steel?

“The sky is the limit when it comes to learning at British Steel. Take every opportunity you can to learn more about the processes which occur at this fascinating site.

“The more that you delve into the process the more hooked you will be! Applying for the apprenticeship at British Steel was the best decision I’ve ever made.”