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Phoebe Payne GSM Valtech

Phoebe Payne is making sparks fly as a pioneering female Engineering Apprentice at GSM Valtech

GSM Valtech Apprentice Phoebe Payne is breaking down barriers as York College's sole female Level 4 Engineering Apprentice.

In a field traditionally dominated by men, Phoebe's passion for engineering was inspired early on by her father, an accomplished Aerospace Engineer. Growing up, she witnessed firsthand how engineering positively shaped his life and career. Inspired by his achievements and the impact of his work, Phoebe is now following a similar path, determined to make her mark in the engineering world.

At GSM Valtech, Phoebe is not only thriving but also setting an example for her peers. Her exceptional performance and enthusiasm for learning have proved doubters wrong and have earned her respect and admiration from both her classmates and colleagues. Phoebe is now setting her sights on progression and shaping a future in engineering.

As Phoebe continues her apprenticeship at GSM Valtech, she remains committed to excelling in her field, learning and naturally inspiring the next generation of female engineers. Her achievements mark a significant step forward for gender equality in engineering, leading the way for more women to join and thrive in the industry.

Phoebe's success story is a reminder of the importance of diversity and inclusion in engineering, a field that benefits greatly from varied perspectives and talents.

Phoebe Payne GSM Valtech 2
Phoebe Payne GSM Valtech 5

Engineering Apprentice, Phoebe Payne said:

“My dad is an engineer in aerospace. It’s what he’s done all his life. I’ve grown up with engineering in mind and I take real inspiration from my dad. I wanted to do something similar and follow in his footsteps because I’ve seen what it’s done for him and his life. He’s really happy and very proud of me.

“The engineering industry can be quite male dominated. I’m the only girl in my class at College, but it doesn’t bother me. To other girls considering engineering, I’d tell them to go for it and not be intimidated by the boys.

“Working at GSM Valtech, I’ve had the opportunity to do a bit of everything. I’ve really enjoyed welding as it was something I’d never done before. It’s quite artistic and I’m a perfectionist. With welding you’ve got to make sure it’s neat and all your settings are right so you can get a high-end finish.

“I’ve learnt so much. I’ve been round every single department and have worked on all the complex machinery. I’m keen to develop within the company and I’m hungry to move onto the next thing. I’m looking to progress into a Team Leader role or into the office-based side of the business to learn about CAD (Computer-Aided Design) work and purchasing.

“I did go to university to study Electrical Engineering but the modules really weren’t for me. Plus, it was during Covid, so I didn’t get the chance to visit or speak with anyone before I started. I felt like I’d been thrown in at the deep end.

“I remember going home at Christmas and decided to give it another go but I just wasn’t enjoying it and couldn’t see myself doing it for another two years. I prefer being practical so I’m really enjoying my Level 4 Apprenticeship. It’s much more me. With an apprenticeship, you’re gaining experience.

“Now, I wake up and look forward to going to work and to College.”

Phoebe Payne GSM Valtech 6
Phoebe Payne with GSM Valtech Operations Manager, Mark Hoffman

Proud of Phoebe’s achievements and how she is inspiring his workforce, GSM Valtech Operations Manager, Mark Hoffman has admitted that her impact has inspired the company to increase their apprenticeship uptake, saying:

“Phoebe has been fantastic since day one. She’s been our first apprentice and I now aim to never not have an apprentice on site. I’d always like to have two to three with us.

“We’re providing Phoebe with a broad knowledge of the business and we’re looking for opportunities for her future. It’s important that we keep her interested and I’m actively considering how her future will look with us.

“Initially, some saw her as a petite girl, and they may have had doubts, but she’s proved people wrong. She’s a real inspiration for everybody. Phoebe has progressed really quickly because she’s got that drive and interest as well as the academic qualities.

“When taking on an apprentice, I look for someone who has enthusiasm for the industry. I’d like someone who wants career development and who wants to be the next Operations Manager or CEO. We’ve always believed in growing talent. That’s the type of business we’ve always been. A lot of senior managers, myself included, are off the shop floor.

“When looking for employees, passion is a massive thing. In previous years, people have come on site because they just wanted a job. I don’t want someone who just wants to do a job, I want somebody who wants to be doing engineering. We look for practical people who have a real enthusiasm for the industry.

“There are many benefits to our business from having Phoebe with us. Her enthusiasm and energy rubs off on everybody else. It makes the rest of the workforce think, ‘Look what she’s doing and look what she’s achieved already’.

“We look for people who are wanting to progress and not settle. We want to grow our people and so we’ve opened up opportunities for Phoebe so she can spend time in different areas. This will help her to recognise what she really enjoys. We support her with her training and, if she needs time off the job, she just needs to ask. It’s about giving her the time.

“With an apprentice they’re learning right from the start so you can then plan for that person and their future and consider where they are going to sit within the organisation. There’s lots of different paths Phoebe could take and I see her moving around the business.

“I’d really encourage anyone to consider an apprentice.”

Learn more

Are you a business considering taking on an apprentice? Contact our Apprenticeships Team for more information at