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About Finding an Employer

You MUST have an employer before you can start an apprenticeship. You can search for an apprenticeship job here.

If you don't yet have an employer you can still apply for an apprenticeship while you continue to look. We can offer you advice on how to successfully secure an apprenticeship with an employer.


48 Months (24 Months of day release)


Automation and Controls engineering technicians typically will be part of a multi-disciplinary team for example as a member or leader of a project team, maintenance team, service team that will work alongside other stakeholders for example design, production or coordination that interfaces with internal and external customers alike.  Monitoring of the operation of these systems can be carried out either within in-situ control rooms/offices or remotely via web based/GPRS based mobile communications.

Am I ready to start?

Relevant Level 3 qualification (e.g. BTEC, A Level etc) and 64 UCAS tariff points (relevant industry experience is also considered)

GCSE Maths and English at grade C or above (or equivalent) 

How does an Apprenticeship Work?

An apprenticeship programme is delivered via a mixture of on and off the job training, whereby you can apply your skills in real work contexts.

The apprenticeship programme usually consists of the following elements:

Knowledge element
This is the technical certificate and covers the theory side of your work which is delivered when you attend College, so that you can put these newly acquired skills into practice at work.

Competence element
This is the practical side of the programme and is assessed directly within the workplace by a Harlow College Assessor to ensure that you are developing your skills within the workplace and putting all that you learn at College into practice
Functional skills: This area covers English and Mathematics.

The duration of the course is typically 42 months. You will attend College for 1 day a week and be in the workplace for the remaining 4 days.

What does the course involve?

An employee in this occupation will be responsible for the ordering, coordination of services, working to established operating procedures for resources such as equipment and software to ensure functionality of automation systems are maintained.  In a large company, they would generally report to an engineering manager whereas they may have greater responsibility and autonomy in an SME. Individuals in service provision would certainly find themselves working in a more autonomous situation.  In either situation they would be responsible for their own actions and to protect those around them with respect to health, safety and the environment.

We work closely with industry to ensure our courses meet the requirements of employers. The course covers the fundamental engineering concepts and skills required of a higher technician as well as providing a sound basis for further study at degree level. The course is delivered through a mixture of classroom activity, guided assignment work and examinations. Emphasis is placed on problem solving skills and students should expect the delivery to reflect this combined with associated mathematical concepts. BTEC Higher National qualifications are widely recognised by industry and higher education as the principal vocational qualification at Levels 4 and 5.

How and when will I study?

You will be studying in the new (£11m) state-of-the-art Harlow Advanced Manufacturing Centre (HAMEC) equipped with over £2m worth of industry standard machinery and equipment and the new IOT building

  • Industry experts teaching specialist subjects
  • 100% success rate on HNC Engineering in last 3 years
  • 75% Merit to Distinction grades on HNC in 2022/23

Assessment method 1 – project: report and presentation with questions:

Assessment method 2 – professional discussion underpinned by a portfolio of evidence:

On programme: Written assessment, presentation, discussions, practical assessments, action research

Down to business, what can I do and what can I earn?

Possible careers;

  • Automation and Controls Engineer
  • Software Engineering
  • Process Engineering

Demand for skilled Engineers is high. Successful completion of this apprenticeship could lead to a range of careers including; Operations Management, Electronics, Design, Aeronautical/Aerospace, Mechanical, Manufacturing, Maintenance, CNC Programming, Marine. The average salary for a qualified engineer is £35,879 and typically ranges from £28,000 to £50,000 but can go beyond that for experienced and senior engineers.  

You could even progress into further training as a Higher Apprentice, where the HNC is studied or progress into more senior or management engineering roles.

Got a job?

You must have a job to do an apprenticeship. If you already have a job you may be able to do an apprenticeship with your current employer.

If you don’t have a job for your apprenticeship – apply for your place at College by clicking the 'Apply Now' button at the top and bottom of the page.

Once you have applied please check out our apprenticeship job vacancies.

An apprenticeship comprises two parts:

  • Typically 20% study element (at Harlow College or Stansted Airport College).
  • 80% work based element with an employer. It is your responsibility to find an employer.

Great, so what do I do now?

Call 01279 868240 to speak to an Apprenticeships adviser

Contact us about applying for an Apprenticeship