1. Please give an overview of your role and what this involves on a day-to-day basis:
My job title is Engineering technician apprentice. Throughout the apprenticeship, we rotate to different departments within the company to experience different roles. Usually roles include: fault finding, soldering, document filing, building and dismantling devices and communicating with your team to complete the task ahead. I talk to a lot of people who surround the department I'm in to gain information and resources. My responsibility is to ensure I complete my tasks set to a high standard and to fulfil my NVQ criteria by completing UPK, reports, observations and PLTS. I also have a responsibility to be safe within the work area which includes reporting anything I deem unsafe, making sure I am fully protected with PPE and keeping my surrounding colleagues aware of anything that may cause them harm.
2. Have you learnt any new skills or developed existing skills?
I have learned plenty of new skills as well as improved existing ones. I have completed my PEO Level 2 qualification and have completed my first year of college doing BTEC Level 3 in Electronic engineering and have almost completed my second year. Within the workplace I have learned to solder and complete rework, hoe different components are structured and how they work within a circuit and how various units are put together and disassembled. Alongside this I have learned how to fault find PCB and the best course of action to fix the issue. Through this I have learned how to complete various pieces of paperwork required by the company and strengthened my communication with known and unknown colleagues.
3. To what extent do you enjoy your programme?
I have enjoyed working within all departments regardless of some being more challenging of others. I am learning a lot about the company as I progress and my knowledge regarding electronics is forever growing. I have however, had issues with the quality of the college education and feel as though I haven't learned as much as I should have with my time there. Although I enjoy working within the departments, I have had a few issues and the programme has not met my expectations. I made a big move to join BAE, leaving my family behind to begin my career here, however it is not as it seemed. The quality of education is fairly poor and I have learned more by asking questions whilst in the various departments.
4. How valued do you feel by BAE Systems?
I have felt valued in most departments I have joined over the year and have had many a thank you from managers for the work I have completed. I have also made some proud at my turn around in confidence of which they gave me. I have received a number of spontaneous awards which I am very proud of. There also seems to be a pressure on apprentices as we are the future of the company. Many of the employees are nearing retirement age and we are needed to fill the spaces that will be made.
5. How well organised/structured is your programme?
The programme is fairly well organised as we have had introduction and plenty of training before working with electronics regarding health and safety. We have some support from our centre manager and assessors through our NVQ and can arrange meetings whenever we feel necessary to discuss concerns. WE also have regular meetings for NVQ progress and Placement programmes so our managers are aware of our progress. After each placement we have review with our supervisor to tell us how we were during out time in the placement which looks at behaviour and quality of work.
6a. How much support do you receive from your training provider?
As said previously we have regular meetings with our assessor to keep up to date with our progress with the apprenticeship. Should we need help we can ask and also arrange a meting whenever we need to discuss an issue. The training providers are happy to help us but do not spoon feed us and have quite often let us find our own feet with regards to some of the work so we learn to deal with challenges. I can't say I am enjoying the NVQ or college but love learning and working within the departments.
6b. How much support do you receive from your employer?
Our manager can be hard to approach sometimes with our problems but is always happy to set up a meeting to discuss an issue. Because of the approachability issue it can be difficult to want support from him. However, we have another person who is very caring and always has a an open door and listening ear and gives us all the support we could want. The HR team have not been very involved with the apprenticeship and they haven't formally been introduced to us seem to have no input into our education but our employment which is what I have been told. We don't have mentors but we can ask past apprentices for support and go to our manager/centre co-ordinator. Sometimes, the attitude towards supporting you can be a slightly harsh but the support is there regardless.
7. How well does your salary/package meet your costs?
The salary does not meet my costs well. I think the pay is quite low considering the job we do. Luckily I live close to the company so should I not be able to afford petrol, I can walk which takes around an hour. I am able to live in shared accommodation and shop to a budget but cannot afford to do my driving lessons, theory or test or run a car should I have one but I wouldn't be able to buy one. I also struggle to keep my motorbike on the road. To have my hobbies means I am left with little money spare once all of my bills are paid and can't go out socially very often.
8. Are there many opportunities outside of work?
Opportunities outside of work haven't been made aware to me so I don't believe there is any. I moved from London to work for BAE and I have always worked since the age of 14 and been in education also.
9a. Would you recommend BAE Systems to a friend? *
9b. Why? *
Unfortunately I don't think BAE is the best place to begin your career. The education is not as good as they make you believe and the wage is low compared to similar apprenticeships. The area surrounding BAE isn't welcoming so you have to be prepared to travel should you want to be in a nicer area. They have also cut the funding for university and should you fail the HNC if you choose to do it, you have to pay back the cost of the HNC. There have also been concerns floating around the workplace that cause concern for a valuable future within the company.
10. What tips or advice would you give to others applying to BAE Systems? *
If anyone is sure they wish to apply for their apprenticeship, make sure they get information from other apprentices for information on their experience. Should they still wish to join, the application needs to be detailed but concise and written to a high quality and don't be afraid to talk yourself up. On the interview day, make sure you show interest and a good personality as BAE prefer people they can get along with rather than the knowledge as you can always learn things but personality doesn't change. I would like to have been told the positives and negatives to the company so understood everything I was getting into.
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