1. Please give an overview of your role and what this involves on a day-to-day basis:
As a mechanical engineering apprentice my time is split between practical sessions in the workshop and theory sessions in a classroom environment, ultimately leading to a series of City & Guilds exams. There have been multiple opportunities to get involved in projects that are external to the apprenticeship too. The work/life balance of the apprenticeship is well judged and all apprentices have the opportunity to take advantage of the on site facilities.
2. Have you learnt any new skills or developed existing skills?
This apprenticeship has helped me develop my previous engineering experience and has given me access to processes such as milling and TIG welding that were previously inaccessible. It has given me the opportunity to renew my previous qualifications as well, such as the IOSH Managing Safely course.
3. To what extent do you enjoy your programme?
The apprenticeship has been fantastic, so far. I'm working with a great range of colleagues from a variety of backgrounds and it has lived up to the expectations that I held prior to starting.
4. How valued do you feel by DSTL?
Dstl have, so far, been excellent in recognising work from their employees; several of us received letters of thanks for our involvement in a project for an external client and hard work does seem to be noted in all areas of the business.
5. How well organised/structured is your programme?
As our course is set up with an external training provider there have been numerous occasions where information hasn't reached some parties or plans haven't been made but this has shown a steady improvement throughout our first year here. I should stress that this hasn't been the fault of Dstl.
6a. How much support do you receive from your training provider?
The support received is dependent on the tutor but on the most part is very good. The tutors are happy to help anyone who asks for guidance and, on the whole, are happy to give up their time to help students.
6b. How much support do you receive from your employer?
Dstl have been excellent in terms of providing support; I was recently involved in a car accident and both my manager and the Occupational Health department have been very understanding. Upon commencing the apprenticeship I had several issues concerning pay; HR sorted this quickly and effectively.
7. How well does your salary/package meet your costs?
Having been earning a larger salary prior to starting the apprenticeship I have found it difficult to adjust and I could not recommend it to someone with large monthly outgoings. All the costs involved with work based placements are covered, however, and the salary does increase to an acceptable wage in the second year.
8. Are there many opportunities outside of work?
With Dstl there are plenty of opportunities to engage in activities outside of standard working hours but unfortunately most of these only become available in the second and third years. Sport is highly encouraged and on site gym membership is extremely cheap.
9a. Would you recommend DSTL to a friend? *
9b. Why? *
DSTL is a unique working environment and every employee definitely seems valued. With a large amount of restructuring going on it's definitely an exciting time to join the business.
10. What tips or advice would you give to others applying to DSTL? *
During the interview process you should show a passion for engineering, even if your previous experience is limited. If you're successful then definitely take every opportunity offered; you'll get far more out of the apprenticeship.
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