Mobility Work is putting maintenance careers into the spotlights. In this fourth episode, Julien Audrain, who works as a Maintenance methods technician for Armor Protéines (Brittany, France), agreed to play along. Through its seven plants located throughout the western region of France, the company - which is a subsidiary of a leading dairy group - has been specializing in milk cracking for nearly 35 years. It has bet on innovation to keep up with the latest technologies and diversify its offer.
Julien Audrain agreed to share with us his background and explain his motivation to work in the industrial maintenance field: family heritage, career prospects, promising opportunities... According to him, this area is full of resources and offers interesting opportunities.
Mobility Work: Can you introduce yourself and tell us about your educational background?
My name is Julien Audrain and I work at Armor Protéines (Brittany, France) as a methods technician. My career started off in highschool with a professional degree in electrotechnics and electricity.
During this training, I did several internships in the field of industrial and building electricity. During one of them, I was offered an apprenticeship on the condition that I obtained my baccalaureate. So, with the local Chamber of Commerce and Industry, I was able to move ahead with a Certificate for Advanced Technicians in industrial maintenance with an apprenticeship at Armor Protéines from 2007 to 2009.
After this degree, the company wanted to hire me as a maintenance technician. Since 2017, I have been replacing a retired methods technician. So, I am still in the same organization and have followed a real path, throughout my degrees and apprenticeship, to get to where I am today.
How did you come to work in industrial maintenance?
I have always loved manual work, handiwork... I should point out that my father is a maintenance manager and that my grandfather was a carpenter so I have always evolved in this environment. At the same time, I was very interested in the industrial world and the opportunities it offers.
What do you think are the strengths and weaknesses of your studies?
As for the strengths, I would be tempted to talk about apprenticeship. It really helped me to have a clear vision of what the working world was like before I officially entered the job. Students have a good first glance to it at school but things are different and necessarily much more concrete on the field. We have a better understanding of the interaction with maintenance technicians, of the work methods, the procedures used to dismantle the machines... It is still much more relevant than on paper or video.
Perhaps the only real weakness would be that the theory learned in class cannot always be applied in the field, depending on the sectors of activity of the companies (agri-food, metallurgy, etc.). Students do learn industrial maintenance, but it is still a very broad field whose application varies according to the industry and the possibilities in the workplace.
In my opinion, there is no major strong or weak point, it remains above all a very good experience, which helps make things tangible. You have to be able to seize opportunities: for instance, I was hired immediately after my Certificate. Had I followed the path of continuous training, I certainly would not have found my first job so easily, especially since employers often ask candidates for at least two to three years of experience, which I was able to acquire precisely because of my training.
Beyond that, I imagine that students who wish to continue their studies after a Advanced Technician’s Certificate in apprenticeship to pursue a Bachelor degree or an engineering school, for example, are sometimes tempted to enter the working work directly instead, because they have had a true first overview.
How do you explain the fact that young people are less and less attracted to this sector?
I think it's a whole. Parents are even more likely today to point their children towards long studies, to want them to work in offices, because this is synonymous, in the collective mind, with a better professional situation.
This preconceived idea is all the more true because, when we think of industrial maintenance, we systematically think of a technician in overall, soiled by grease and oils... We must rather imagine them as employees who must use their thinking skills to improve processes, working conditions, methods used and who are ultimately a real support for production!
Though the technician must be able to repair a machine as quickly as possible, he must also know how to juggle with various interlocutors: quality, safety... The profiles of maintenance technicians, method technicians and even maintenance managers are constantly evolving and much more comprehensive than we might think.
What is the main difficulty you have faced during your school career?
To be honest, I did not encounter any particularly penalizing difficulty. But I did encountered some obstacles during my Certificate, when I found myself with people who had a degree in mechanical maintenance and therefore had other knowledge while I came from a different curriculum. I had to catch up on these subjects, but it's a double-edged situation because I was very comfortable with electricity thanks to my own training, unlike the others.
Generally speaking, everyone tends to have difficulties on some topics, and facilities or real assets on others. The important thing is to make the right choice at the beginning of your career.
Why did you choose the apprenticeship path?
I decided to choose this path during my professional degree, when I was directly offered an apprenticeship position. In addition to all the benefits we mentioned previously, the prospect of earning a living when you are 18 years old and still in school is very appealing, to be honest. It allows you to become more independent and mature.
What was the main difficulty when you were working in the company?
Overall, everything went very well and I had a really good experience because instead of being assigned to one person when I joined the company, I was really integrated into the department. Then, I was gradually allowed to work independently. I could watch different working methods, see how everyone was working, learn by myself... I did not have any unpleasant surprises on what I had heard about the job market, on the contrary, I was very well prepared for it.
Do you have any last advice for those who want to work in the industrial maintenance sector?
I think we should not be stopped by the prejudices that we often hear about first-level industrial maintenance, but rather have a long-term view. If a maintenance technician wants to evolve, it is possible to acquire the means and achieve it.
When you opt for industrial maintenance, the range of possibilities is very wide: you can choose to focus on new works, the design office... This field is far from being closed, on the contrary it offers a multitude of horizons! In addition, there is strong demand in all sectors and the industrial maintenance area itself is quite open. There are many opportunities to be seized.
Thank you to Mr. Audrain for his testimony. To be alerted of our next article dedicated to maintenance jobs and training, follow us on our social media (LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter)!