Business Operations Project Control at BAE Systems

Start Date:
Programme Type:
Apprenticeship - Higher Level (Level 4/5)
£22,000 annually
Review Date:
April 2016

Review Score


1. Please give an overview of your role and what this involves on a day-to-day basis:


I work in a Control Account role and I am in charge of tracking and managing the man hours spend for 41 engineers. I make sure that the spend does not exceed the budget and speak to the engineers regularly to get reasons for their budget over or underspends. I also work with the contract owners to ask for budget increases should it be required.

2. Have you learnt any new skills or developed existing skills?


I have completed the APM higher apprenticeship with consisted of my sitting two examinations. I have also been on a number of internal courses, such as Lean Learning and also an Earned Value Management Course. I have also learned how to use the risk database and also the budget change request database and learned how to send and accept budgets via triggers and responses.

3. To what extent do you enjoy your programme?


I enjoy my programme as I have a varied role and I can request various training courses should I feel I that would benefit me. Every year I rotate into a different placement which gives me a different position in the company on a different air platform or a different site. The scheme was what I was expecting, as I did a lot of research before I applied. I like my team at work and I enjoy coming into work as I get to work with a number of people and get exposure to senior managers. I would like to try different roles in the future.

4. How valued do you feel by BAE Systems?


I feel valued at BAE Systems. I have received two above & beyond for my work commitments. My manager often praises me for my work, but also gives me constructive feedback to help me improve. I was also given external recognition when I attended an external event and one of the managers there rang up my manager to give me some lovely feedback, which was then passed down to me. This was great, because some managers would not pass this on. I am in charge of tracking budgets and supporting 41 engineers, which is a big responsibility for someone who hasn't been in the company for even two years. The suggestion I would have is that senior managers can sometimes be unwilling to listen to apprentices and take our ideas on board, because some processes have been done for a number of years.

5. How well organised/structured is your programme?


The training on the programme at work is very good. There is an online system where you can look at the course descriptions and request to go on it. The induction for the first week was well organised with various site tours and I was given a lot of useful information. My team at work is well organised and my roles and responsibilities are clear. However, the college course can sometimes be of poor quality. Staff can sometimes be off and there is little support to cover it and we can be left just doing group tasks. Some power point slides are of poor quality and the only way to understand the topic or get good results is to do additional reading from textbooks and it can be difficult to know what the tutors are asking for in the assignments. This has been raised a number of times (Since 2007 when the scheme started) and not a lot has changed.

6a. How much support do you receive from your training provider?


The tutors at college are very approachable. If you have any queries about the topics you can go to them and they will arrange a time to support you. There is also a dedicated team for support at college who you can go through assignments with and they will try to help clarify topics. The tutors are very enthusiastic and I think it is good that the tutor with the most knowledge teaches the module, so you get the best support they can give. The class sizes are also very small (less than 10), which is great when we have class discussions. I do enjoy college and the topics that I am taught. However, it can be frustrating that some of the power points are of poor quality and so it is difficult to understand what the basics of the topic are about.

6b. How much support do you receive from your employer?


The support at work is very good. I can attend training courses if I think that they will benefit my learning. I was given a 'Buddy' when I joined the scheme to help me settle into my role. I was also given a mentor, who is a previous student on the scheme. The scheme leaders are also very approachable. I am confident that should I have any problems, there are a number of people I could go to.

7. How well does your salary/package meet your costs?


I think that my salary is very good for my age and qualification level. The main benefit is that I will have no university debt, as all of my fees are paid for by BAE Systems. The North West is cheap to live and the salary comfortably lets me live. I am able to save money each month for the future without having to constantly be looking at what I am spending. BAE Systems also gives you travel time and expenses should they require you to travel for the company.

8. Are there many opportunities outside of work?


There are a number of charities that you can support, such as Hounds for Heroes and Combat Stress. This can be done by volunteering, but the company allows this to be done in work time sometimes. There are clubs at lunch time, such as a book club or running and also football games after work (Which can get very competitive). There is also a gym just off the site, but this is very expensive for the equipment it has, so I personally do not use it. I attended the Apprentice Awards Evening, which was very nice and I had chance to talk to senior managers as they were also invited.

9a. Would you recommend BAE Systems to a friend? *


9b. Why? *

The benefits at BAE Systems are very good, both the salary and other benefits you receive are slightly higher than other employers in the area. They also support additional learning and help you achieve future career aspirations by paying for external and internal training courses. There are also a variety of roles available both across different air platforms and across the UK and worldwide.

10. What tips or advice would you give to others applying to BAE Systems? *

I would suggest answering the questions on the first stage of the application with a variety of examples and also getting family members to proof read and give suggestions, because even a spelling error and you will not get through this first stage. The assessment day will consist of an interview, which again, you need a number of examples and the questions are very generic competency styles. There is also a presentation at the assessment day. I would suggest to use the flipchart paper provided, as I was given excellent feedback on my presentation.

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