1. Please give an overview of your role and what this involves on a day-to-day basis:
First year: Training at an external training centre learning basic electronics, fault finding and bench working. One day a week at college learning Electrical/Electronic Engineering. Second year: Placements around the company including Engineering (Test Systems (Designing and building automatic test equipment), Hybridrive (Testing and adjusting bus hybrid systems), Hardware (Sticks, HUD or Helmets, supporting development projects), Qualification (Testing development internal and external equipment to certain standards)), QPM (Quality, Production and Manufacturing Engineering, focused on supporting production floor through the three roles), Testing (Technician and Engineering levels testing HUDs, Sticks, PCBs or working on the processes for testing), RSC (Rochester service centre fault finding civil aircraft modules), Calibration (Supporting the servicing of general working equipment). Continuation of training at college one day a week. Third year: Year long placement within one department which you interview for, developing skills and responsibilities within that department. Potentially continue onto HNC at college.
2. Have you learnt any new skills or developed existing skills?
Development within the work placements is excellent where the departments have time to support and train you. Can be sketchy at times where departments are either very busy (No time to teach you) or very quiet (Given dull and meaningless jobs). External training at the training centre and the college is poor and is a particular struggle if you have no background knowledge in Electronics.
3. To what extent do you enjoy your programme?
Certain work placements can be extremely enjoyable particularly when they give you a good array of work and ensure you have a good feel for all the interesting and not so interesting work. This means you leave the department with a good understanding of ALL work you would do. Some departments however don't give the capacity for meaningful or valued work which usually leaves you disgruntled with that whole 7/8 week placement. The college learning is very poor and you could quite easily complete the assignments at home if you didn't have to complete practicals.
4. How valued do you feel by BAE Systems?
This is again department dependent (Though can depend on the team you work with). Certain departments will make you part of the team (As long as you make the effort as well) and include you in meetings and you will be making a positive difference by being there. Other departments you will feel rather hung out to dry due to the disconnection from any team or even a clear supervisor. The general feeling toward apprentices is good due to the high number who are ex apprentices themselves. Don't expect to have much treatment as an adult when it comes to college however, you are just another student regardless of age or maturity.
5. How well organised/structured is your programme?
The programme is reasonably structured, you have 6 placements chosen by the training team, which they feel would suit you. The difficulty here is you have only small amounts of contact with the team within the first year so sometimes they don't suit however generally you should enjoy what you are given as they have much experience doing this. My recommendation is that there is an amount of consultation during the first year with briefs of each department so that some level of preference can be given, particularly as many come with certain products they wish to see. The level of flexibility for changing placements is low and it can be very difficult to change your set placements. To a degree this makes sense as it is not a free for all and you can't have everyone chopping and changing however it would be nice to have some flexibility. With college some modules are electrical due to the nature of the course and these are generally not used within work. It would be more suitable to do only electronics modules. Future prospects seem grim as much funding has been pulled for university and very few positions exist, it certainly feels as if my future is uncertain.
6a. How much support do you receive from your training provider?
Although complaints are fed-back to the college it can take a very long time for anything to be done and sometimes nothing is done. Directly approaching tutors at the college is usually pointless as they still have to move it on to the appropriate persons even if they want to help themselves.
6b. How much support do you receive from your employer?
There are many services such as counselling and hotlines etc as well as other health services. Support from anywhere else in the company is minimal and you tend to feel lost when you have a problem. Certain persons within departments can be very helpful but this is only due to the individuals. Despite the 'Shingo' culture and the encouragement to be understanding there still seems to be many who don't take the time to understand and support in a compassionate manner. Although it appears apprentices are given some level of feedback with the apprentice council and JCC there still seems to be very little that comes from them.
7. How well does your salary/package meet your costs?
If you live at home with your parents paying no rent then the pay is great. If you rent, pay for food and run a car then you have to struggle to make ends meet on a monthly basis. First year 10.3k Second year 12.5k Third year 15k End of apprenticeship wage: 21.5k (Dependent on performance)
The pay is also not competitive compared to other local apprenticeships who earn more throughout and end on more. (Known through research and because at college you will be regularly told by every other apprentice how they earn more and how surprised they are at this). Even less local apprenticeships such as jaguar and national rail earn far more despite what could be considered lower level engineering.
8. Are there many opportunities outside of work?
There are a few trips and exercise classes available however these are usually too expensive for the apprentice wage. Very little exists socially unless you happen to get in with certain teams or groups of people. Apprentice socials or events are non-existent.
9a. Would you recommend BAE Systems to a friend? *
9b. Why? *
Bearing in mind the level of candidate that BAE usually take on you would be far better off at a different company. They only take the best of a large group and it is made out as though the apprenticeship is all singing all dancing however this is very much not the case and you may be left severely disappointed by the whole affair.
10. What tips or advice would you give to others applying to BAE Systems? *
Don't expect the pay to be competitive. Progression will be slow (I'm not saying it should be fast but many come into the company expecting to be managers in a few years and it just wont happen). Your experience can vary wildly during your placements dependent on work load and team dynamics. The education providers are very poor bearing in mind you are working for such a world class company (Second largest aerospace, defence and security company in the world behind Lockheed Martin).
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