Mark Donnelly, Head of Apprentices and Skills Training, BAE Systems, discusses his experience of national apprentice week.
Mark Donnelly, Head of Apprentices and Skills Training, BAE Systems, discusses his experience of national apprenticeship week.
National Apprenticeship Week began with a journey to London for a joint aerospace and airworthiness apprenticeship meeting. This meeting is where companies from our sector collaborate to encourage organisations and professional bodies to design new apprenticeships, raise standards and ensure programmes are fit for businesses’ future skills requirements. The meeting was very positive. It was chaired by our Education Director Richard Hamer, with many large and small companies in attendance who inputted into the final stages of an assessment plan template to be used across our new apprenticeship standards and aligned to Professional Body recognition. At Euston Station, on the way down the tube escalators en-route to our London office, I noted the fantastic advert we have promoting BAE Systems’ apprenticeship opportunities for all to see.
On Tuesday, I spoke at the North West Employer Conference at Aintree Racecourse, with over 180 employers in attendance. I was invited to speak as BAE Systems was awarded the 2015 Macro Employer of the Year winner by the National Apprenticeship Service. In my address, I took the opportunity to highlight our commitment to diversity and inclusion and how apprenticeships are a vital element of ensuring a critical pipeline of talent for the Company.
Midweek saw our HR teams meet up for our Apprentice Governance Group, which manages our existing apprenticeship programmes and any new programmes being introduced. We had a really good session covering key performance metrics and safeguarding as well as feedback analysis on the annual survey HR services which is undertaken with all of our apprentices to improve our programme. It was amazing to realise that we have over 1600 apprentices in learning at the moment! We also heard from engineering technical apprentice Daniel Hogg at our Military Air & Information business, who is our new Chair of our National Apprentice Council. It was great to hear from Daniel about all of the things happening during Apprenticeship week, which included apprentices from our business units shadowing senior leaders, ‘back to the floor’ activities with directors, careers fairs, and the involvement of our apprentices in Big Bang, the largest celebration of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) for young people. . Following this event in Samlesbury, a ‘golden bolt’ ceremony took place to mark the completion of the steelwork of the new Training Academy for our Military Air & Information business.
To finish the week, I spoke at United Utilities at an event to mark the launch of the North West Diversity Champion Network. This initiative was created by Nadhim Zahawi, the Prime Minister’s Special Adviser on Apprenticeships. For us, being a part of this champion network will help to further enhance our diversity and inclusion strategy.
Apprentices hold a very special place within our business and it was a pleasure to participate in National Apprenticeship Week to celebrate the invaluable contribution they make to the Company. Many thanks to the support given this week by line managers, supervisors, Business Unit HR and our HR Services Apprentice & Skills Training Team. BAE Systems’ biggest asset is our people and thanks to the efforts in particular of our apprentices across the business, including our Apprentice of the Year Brad Smith, we have successfully engaged with people on a national scale and showcased how our programme is central to delivering the skills we need in our business.