I joined BAE Systems as an Engineering Apprentice on a level 3 advanced apprenticeship scheme at the age of 16. My apprenticeship enabled me to experience a variety of different roles across the business every six months throughout the three-and-a-half year scheme.
The range of roles have taught me how to operate as a professional engineer and gain a wide knowledge of the company’s products, markets and attributes, as well as knowledge of how the business operates. I also got invaluable hands-on experience which I wouldn’t have got from a classroom.
For me an apprenticeship was the right choice, I always knew I could succeed academically but an apprenticeship developed my personal competencies, increased my confidence and provided practical experience in the workplace, which for me was pivotal. Joining the world of work at an early age exposed me to a global business environment and this encouraged me to think ambitiously.
In addition to experience I was also able to develop academically, for example during my apprenticeship I gained my NVQ Level 3 in Technical Services and a HNC in Aerospace Engineering. I went on to receive a scholarship to study at University and this exposed me to Chartered Engineers and their vast experience from across the industry and educated me on the breadth of the engineering world. I achieved a 1st Class Honours Degree in Mechanical Engineering from Manchester Metropolitan University and more recently I gained the APM Practitioner Qualification.
In 2007 I was honoured to be awarded National Advanced Apprentice of the Year at the UK National Apprenticeship Awards. This recognition opened the doors to opportunities I would never have imagined when I left school at sixteen years old, including the privilege of speaking in Buckingham Palace, appearing live on national television and presenting awards on stage at the O2 arena. These experiences increased my self-confidence and channelled my future career aspirations to progress within the company.
Since completing my apprenticeship I have moved out of an engineering specialism into a more business-focused project management role, which gives me the opportunity to apply my engineering knowledge differently and make a contribution to how engineering is managed by the company.
The ten years since I completed my apprenticeship have flown by quickly and I firmly believe that the training I received has provided me with a solid foundation for the future. I have undertaken roles in Airframe Engineering, In Service Support, Aircraft Maintenance and more recently Project Management and I still refer to the principles that I gained during my apprenticeship.