1. Please give an overview of your role and what this involves on a day-to-day basis:
Apprentice Mechanical Engineer. I attend the QinetiQ Apprentice Training School on a daily basis. Here I develop my engineering skills both in the classroom and in the workshop. However for myself coming from a normal work environment it was patronising to begin with.
2. Have you learnt any new skills or developed existing skills?
I had already completed several of the units on the course, so QinetiQ adjusted for this and I now will be gaining extra qualifications. I've also learnt new machining skills, eccentric turning was something I had never done before and the tutors were able to help me; answering any questions I had.
3. To what extent do you enjoy your programme?
I enjoy the apprenticeship programme DSTL provides, as the placements are varied; working on different parts of the site and learning different skills from the wide range of experienced staff within DSTL. Also my intake is one of the largest ( of 15 ) however we all get on very well and support each other as a team. The QinetiQ training can be very draining at times as it is like being back at school, but it is worthwhile in the long run as it gets you the qualifications needed for an EngTech professional registration.
4. How valued do you feel by DSTL?
All the departments within DSTL seem very open to apprentices, and when you enter a new department they are very welcoming and give you a level of respect higher than given in the private sector ( I have been in a private sector apprenticeship ). When you develop relationships with the different managers ect, they begin to trust you and give you varying levels of work to complete, some times quite vital work, which made me feel valued. ( I can't disclose the work as it is protected under the OSA )
5. How well organised/structured is your programme?
The basic structure of the apprenticeship starts with a year at QinetiQ training school ( QATS ), then 3 months at DSLT, 3 Months back at QATS, 3 months at DSTL, then a final 3 months at QATS before your final year completely at DSTL. These 3 month placements are great for finding your feet within the company, and give you ideas of what you may like to do when you complete your apprenticeship. You are given a clear plan of what will happen in your first year at QATS, when your exams are so you have plenty of time to revise.
6a. How much support do you receive from your training provider?
AS much as we need, however grumpy some of the tutors may come across. They are always willing to help you, even if it is with silly things and you need that bit of reassurance. The level of teaching is quite high, and they are all very understanding as the majority are ex apprentices.
6b. How much support do you receive from your employer?
Our line manager is only a call or email away, she supports us in our day to day work life; from booking leave to organising training courses. DSTL is willing to help you improve yourself as a person and support you, as long as you're willing to put the time in.
7. How well does your salary/package meet your costs?
£10,500 for a first year apprentice is quite competitive. By the end of my second year at my first apprenticeship I had only just got on to this salary. With the pay rise at the end of the first year with DSTL to £14,500, it covers all of my expenses and allows me to live comfortably whilst on the apprenticeship. However for some of my colleagues who do not live with parents, renting accommodation may impact their lifestyle, however I've never heard them complain about being short on cash,
8. Are there many opportunities outside of work?
I am becoming a STEM ambassador for DSTL, which involves going out to schools and colleges to promote the apprenticeship and STEM in general. It will also allow me to attend events where I may meet high ranking members of the MOD to expand my contact base. We have full equipped gyms on every site which we take full advantage of when we aren't working; and discount cards that allow us to get discount wherever armed forces do, in such places like Thorpe park and discount on Apple products.
9a. Would you recommend DSTL to a friend? *
9b. Why? *
The advantages of working for the MOD may not be the pay, but the benefits are great. They offer a cycle to work scheme, child care vouchers ( if you have kids ), Civil service sports club discounts and defence discount card. The work is varied and interesting, if you are interested in the military for sure!
10. What tips or advice would you give to others applying to DSTL? *
Be yourself, be interesting and show a genuine interest in the apprenticeship. Do not panic at the assessment days, as everyone is in the same boat; talk to the other candidates, show you have social skills and that you are keen to learn. If you get through to the individual interviews, ensure you are dressed correctly and have researched as much as you can about the site and DSTL ( Even though there is limited information )
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