Mateusz Piekut had thought that apprenticeships were only for school-leavers and that the financial incentives couldn’t compare to full-time employment. But after working for 10 years at a fast food restaurant, he wanted a new challenge – and a former colleague told him about PepsiCo’s General Operative Apprenticeship scheme in Leicester:

“I was looking for something new and I heard really positive things about the apprenticeship, with the opportunity to get a permanent job and qualifications.”

Mateusz realised that he could use his experience in the food industry to gain recognised professional certifications whilst earning a living at PepsiCo.

As well as the opportunity to learn without having to go into full-time education, he was reassured about his long-term prospects:

“I’m learning so much while working as an apprentice. I get to attend Maths and English classes at PepsiCo, while also gaining qualifications in food safety as well as occupational health and safety.

Progression made practical

More than six months into his apprenticeship, after classroom-based learning at the start of the course, Mateusz is enjoying applying his technical knowledge:

“Because I have experience in the food industry, there are a lot of things which are already familiar to me. But instead of managing people as I did in my old job, now I mainly focus on making sure the machines and processes we use to make Walkers crisps are performing as they should.”

Mateusz’s apprenticeship means that as well as using what he’s learnt, he can take responsibility for finding solutions to issues:

“It’s rewarding for me to be able to manage problems myself. It’s not just learning by heart, I now understand what is happening more broadly, so I can resolve problems I haven’t come across.”

Looking to the future

Given his decade of experience in the workplace, Mateusz wanted to make sure that as well as allowing him to continue working day-to-day his next career move would provide opportunities for progression. He’s pleased he made the move:

“You work as normal, you get paid as normal and you get all these qualifications that set you up for the future. It’s a good investment when it comes to your career path and I would definitely recommend it to everyone.”

As well as the opportunities the apprenticeship has brought, Mateusz is pleased he picked PepsiCo and is eager to stay:

“I don’t think I’ve ever felt so comfortable in the work environment. It’s a nice place to be, I am enjoy my work, and I’m hoping I will be able to stay within the company and move up the ranks.”