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Apprentices set for take-off

Left to right: Joanna and Pav
A pair of our apprentices have been named the best in the North West at a leading industry awards

Pav Bhogal picked up the Best Apprentice of the Year prize with Joanne Sharples winning the award for Outstanding Leadership at the New Talent Awards run by the North West Aerospace Alliance (NWAA) to celebrate the brightest minds coming in to the industry.


The pair collected their awards at a ceremony at the Imperial War Museum North in Salford on 28 November, which heard speeches from our chief test pilot, Mark Bowman, and former national apprentice champion, Jenny Westworth.

About Pav Bhogal

Pav, 21, who lives in Preston, Lancashire and is in the third and final year of his apprenticeship, said his experience had surpassed his expectations.

He said: “When I started as an apprentice, I could never have expected to be representing BAE Systems and the country at skills competitions or winning awards like this.

“The opportunities I have had to work on world-class aircraft like Typhoon and our unmanned air vehicles projects throughout my apprenticeship has been an amazing experience.”

About Joanne Sharples

Joanne, 22, of St Annes, Lancashire collected her prize following her success in leading a team of three BAE Systems project managers in a competition organised as part of the awards.

It saw them take on teams of engineers in a variety of challenges which included having to build a tower out of spaghetti which was capable of balancing a marshmallow on top.

She said: “The judges were impressed with the way I kept the team motivated even though we were doing badly at the exercise, they commented on the leadership I showed.

“They said I had ‘stepped in whenever needed’ to support the team and drive them forward which was great to hear.”

Project Control Foundation Scheme

Joanne is now in her second year of a five-year Project Control Foundation Scheme (PCFS) which w run with Blackpool and Fylde College to train up project managers.

It will see her complete a higher apprenticeship and a foundation degree in her first two years before going on to study a bachelors’ degree in the final three years.

She said: “The opportunities my training with BAE Systems has given me has been fantastic, every day I am involved in something exciting.”

Schoolboy dream

During his speech, Mark Bowman, who leads our team of test pilots at our Warton site in Lancashire, talked about achieving his schoolboy dream to fly world-class aircraft such as the Eurofighter Typhoon and the importance of apprenticeships.

Leading ambassador

Jenny Westworth, who won the NWAA Best Apprentice of the Year prize in 2011, also spoke about her apprenticeship experience which has seen her take a role as an education ambassador and an ambassador for key STEM (science, technology, engineering and manufacturing) in the region.

The future of our industry

NWAA chief executive officer Martin Wright said the young engineers and technicians coming into the region’s aerospace companies were “the future of our industry.”
He added: “Advanced high technology manufacturing is now recognised as a vital part of our economy, offering young people a career for life.
“The NWAA works to promote this image and works alongside industry with schools, parents and teachers to ensure the region has a consistent and growing pool of talent, as demonstrated by these awards.”

Renowned training scheme

In 2013, we took more than 100 apprentices on to our renowned training scheme including 83 which will go direct into our own workforce and a further 22 taken on through an Employee Ownership Pilot.

That initiative will see apprentices trained up at our centre in Preston, Lancashire, for the first year before going on to complete the rest of their training in our supply chain companies.

We are currently recruiting for our latest intake of apprentices, who will start in September 2014.

For further details, visit