1. Please give an overview of your role and what this involves on a day-to-day basis:
I am a Manufacturing Higher Apprentice. In the first 9 months of my apprenticeship, my role was to attend the company training centre in Derby and to complete a series of basic engineering workshop sections, such as turning, milling, CNC turning, welding and sheet metal work, fitting, assembly, drawing, and electrical and electronics. These all went toward a Performing Engineering Operations level 2 qualification, and mostly required daily attendance in the apprentice workshop and interaction with other apprentices and instructors. At the same time, I have been working towards a foundation degree in mechanical engineering; in the first year of the apprenticeship I was released to college for one week in every three, but from the second year onwards it is one day each week. Once the PEO level 2 is complete, I will move on to placements within the business, where I will complete work towards an NVQ. Also, in the second year, apprentices are required to take part in a STEM project that involves working as a team to deliver a project day at a local primary school.
2. Have you learnt any new skills or developed existing skills?
In the first year, you work towards the Performing Engineering Operations level 2 qualification. After that is complete, you work on an NVQ while in placements within the business. There are multiple training courses that are completed within the first year (usually arranged together on a specific week), covering topics such as personal finances, safe driving, ethics, company culture, safeguarding, the basics of gas turbines, presentation skills, among others. Additionally, in the first and second year of the apprenticeship, apprentices are required to attend a one week Outward Bound training course to help them understand and apply the company's values; very good fun indeed!
3. To what extent do you enjoy your programme?
The work itself is overall quite enjoyable, with plenty of challenges. The team is almost entirely a pleasure to work with; the instructors are always happy to help if you get stuck, and very good at passing on their knowledge and experience, and the other apprentices are supportive of each other and work well together. The company culture promotes a positive 'can-do' attitude and work ethic, with attention to detail and quality emphasised. Over all, I have enjoyed my time on this apprenticeship and would recommend it.
4. How valued do you feel by Rolls-Royce?
So far, I have felt that my manager appreciates the effort I put into my apprenticeship, and has gone out of her way to be considerate and helpful at every opportunity. My involvement in projects has been a little limited, but this is simply a result of my personal circumstances; there are usually multiple opportunities for involvement in different projects. I believe that I am highly valued as an employee of Rolls-Royce.
5. How well organised/structured is your programme?
The induction at the start of the apprenticeship was highly organised and very well thought out. The majority of training courses are organised together so that they cause minimal disruption to the workshop schedule. The workshop training schedule is fully planned out in advance, and all apprentices have access to a spreadsheet which displays the entire learning plan. Support is available through the Apprentice Development Leaders (ADLs) at work, and student support services at college. There are regular meetings between apprentices and their ADLs to discuss progress and any issues that might arise. Overall, the programme was well organised and made very clear to all apprentices involved.
6a. How much support do you receive from your training provider?
Due to a change of providers from Derby College to Derby University between my intake and future intakes, my experience with our training provider Derby College is, unfortunately, no longer applicable to future apprentices (although it was mostly positive regardless). Although I have no personal experience of attending Derby University yet, I have heard only positive feedback so far from the newer apprentices.
6b. How much support do you receive from your employer?
My manager (or ADL) is very supportive at all times. The HR team, when needed, deal with issues quickly and efficiently. Support is highly accessible, and the company is more than happy to provide specific details of the types of support available as well as contact information. If problems arise at any time, help and guidance is available and can be easily accessed, especially through your ADL. The general attitude towards supporting the apprentices is very positive.
7. How well does your salary/package meet your costs?
My salary easily meets my living, personal travel and social costs with some to spare for savings, so long as I am sensible with my money. If you are required to travel for work at any time, there is an expenses claiming system available to help you cover the costs of travel, food, etc. I have to add that I am in the fortunate circumstance of not requiring a car, since I live very close to the pick up point for the free company shuttle bus service. However, all of the apprentices I know who do have their own vehicles do not have any significant problems with financing them.
8. Are there many opportunities outside of work?
There is a society called the Apprentice and Graduate Association (a separate organisation to Rolls-Royce that works and co-ordinates with the company on certain events) which organises events outside of work for apprentices and graduates at Rolls-Royce in the Derby area (you do not need to be a member to take part, but members do get discounts). These events have included things like bowling, paintballing, observatory visits, escape room evenings, horse riding days, archery and fencing tasters, etc. There are also a variety of company sports clubs at their dedicated sports facilities, and the local area also has a wide variety of different clubs and societies available.
9. Would you recommend Rolls-Royce to a friend?
I have enjoyed the experience so far, the salary is very competitive, the training is comprehensive and engaging, and I personally believe that undertaking an apprenticeship is much more beneficial to most people than attending university because not only are you being paid while you earn your qualifications (and so avoiding huge amounts of student debt), but you also gain a wealth of industry experience that you might not otherwise have until much later in life.
10. What tips or advice would you give to others applying to Rolls-Royce?
Read everything about the company and the apprenticeship programmes they are offering that you can; work out which programmes you are interested in, taking note of the entry requirements. Make sure you fully understand the application process (the details will be available on the company's apprenticeship website), and don't be afraid to call if you have questions. Be thorough when filling in the online application, but make sure not to miss the deadline for submission! Try to complete your application as early as you can after applications open; I left it quite late, and so missed out on the opportunity to apply to several of the available programmes. At the assessment day, try to be involved as much as possible, and make sure that you engage with the other apprentices; try not to be too quiet, you want the assessors to see that you are getting involved and contributing positively. I nearly missed out on this apprenticeship because I was very reserved. For the interviews, be prepared; remember what you wrote for your online application (take a copy of your application with you, it can be helpful), read up on the company in general, read up on and make sure you understand the apprenticeship programme you are applying for, and try to prepare some questions in advance that you can ask the interviewers at the end (this helps to show that you are genuinely interested in the opportunity and the company). It also helps to take several copies of your CV with you to the interview; one for yourself, and one for each person conducting the interview. Any supporting evidence for activities or projects you may have mentioned during the application process can be useful as well, such as photos of yourself performing said activity. Finally, be yourself, within reason; try to be relaxed, but remain formal and respectful.
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