1. Please give an overview of your role and what this involves on a day-to-day basis:
Steel fabricator- Daily tasks include the cutting and shaping of various types of material (Most frequently low carbon steel or mild steel) to be assembled in to piece parts and other assemblies of the project which the company has in place at the time (currently working on OPV, offshore patrol vessel). My most frequent daily interaction are between myself and the store personnel, from whom I collect the equipment I work with, the tradesman/ journeyman I work with, who I will assist in whatever job provided by the supervisor and the supervisor himself, who will dole out work to be completed and check on my progress at intervals throughout the day. My responsibilities include (but are not limited to) my own safety and the safety of those around me, which can be achieved through compliance with safe working practices, to read technical drawings which will show me the layout of the job to be undertaken and to ensure I have all the necessary equipment/ materials needed for the task at hand.
2. Have you learnt any new skills or developed existing skills?
Right from the start of my apprenticeship I have been learning new skills and developing old ones. Before I began working on site, I was required to complete mandatory confined space and overhead crane awareness training, for this I received a certificate. Upon completion of my first year I was also awarded certification for completion of my PEO, showing I had completed the necessary theory based paper work to advance in my apprenticeship. This and the work I have undertaken on site have lead to increased technical knowledge, better communication skills and a smarter work ethos (being better at prioritising work based on time restrictions, safety measures and other work being done around me.)
3. To what extent do you enjoy your programme?
I have thoroughly enjoyed the programme. To be part of a team working towards a common goal is extremely rewarding, especially when you see the finished article and can proudly say you were part of a the team that is responsible for it. The culture within the company encourages working smarter rather than faster which provides its own challenges to ensure you are being pushed to improve all the time. In this regard it has met my expectations as I always believed that no matter what level I reached in my knowledge of my trade, that there would always be the opportunity for further skills to be learned. This constant state of learning keeps me occupied and ensures my interest in the job at hand.
4. How valued do you feel by BAE Systems?
I feel that the company does value my input and contributions as recently I have had an extended period of absence due to ill health, and have been re-assigned to an office based position, but I have been in constant contact with the people dealing with my absence, and they have been extremely eager to do anything they can to help me, and to aid my return to the shop floor. It has also been extremely appreciated by myself that somewhere has been found that I can work whilst I recover so as I am not absent from the business entirely for too long a period.
5. How well organised/structured is your programme?
The programme is well structured to my mind, the induction to the college (theory) side of the programme and the site (practical) side, were both different and tailored to the tasks that each would entail, and safety was emphasised as being of the highest importance in both. Training, both on the job, and through designated courses is available to everyone and is mostly given where required, the only downside is sometimes it is not available right away and some machinery equipment does require training before it can be used. Training co-ordinators are in contact with you on a semi-regular basis so you have their support and can ask them for help with any queries/ problems that arise. When on site task delegation can be a little repetitive, but this is due to the work available at the time and can't be helped. It is also well organised that while working, apprentices are placed with a time served tradesman who, should it be required, can help with any on the job problems, that may arise.
6a. How much support do you receive from your training provider?
My training co-ordinator is there when I need help with most problems, but for the most part it is not necessary to contact them. now that I am a bit further advanced in the programme most queries or work related problems can and should be solved by your supervisor. A lot of the guidance needed to progress your skills in your trade come from work place experience and the tradesman/ supervisor you work with. With regards to the theory side (Log book) of the programme, the training co-ordinator organises regular meetings to check on your progress and makes himself available to help with any problems you may have.
6b. How much support do you receive from your employer?
As mentioned before, I have had quite a lot of time absent from the business recently through ill health, and during this time I have received a lot of support from my employer. I have been in constant contact with the HR team and other involved parties who have helped with things from organising in work physio appointments, to finding an office based placement for me to work at until such time as I am cleared to return to the shop floor.
7. How well does your salary/package meet your costs?
As I am a bit older than average age of those in the apprentice programme, I feel like I have further experience in money management, which is why I feel that my salary adequately meets my outgoings, such as; travel to and from work, the cost of living and social costs. I believe everyone wishes they could earn a little more but I feel satisfied with my current wage structure. I understood before joining the scheme that my wage as an apprentice wouldn't necessarily even be minimum wage as an employee. BAE do tend to give better wages though in general to apprentices.
8. Are there many opportunities outside of work?
There are plenty of opportunities for involvement outside of work, ranging from helping with ambassador programmes, encouraging youth participation in the field of engineering, engaging in the local community amongst others. I have been involved in a few of these events as a STEM ambassador, most recently an event held on site at Govan aimed at increasing the participation of young women in engineering and technical based learning/ employment. there is also the chance for further learning outwith of work, but these opportunities are, to my knowledge, mainly restricted to after the completion of the apprenticeship programme, and as such are not really advertised to us.
9. Would you recommend BAE Systems to a friend?
I feel it is a good place to work. You are valued for your input and if you adopt a good work ethos there is room for progression within the business. Since starting here I feel not only my technical knowledge and skills of my trade have improved, but my social skills in the way of communication with those around me, my time management and other life skills have improved. I have overall enjoyed my apprenticeship and hope that i get the same help and respect at work as a full time employee as i am currently very happy with working here.
10. What tips or advice would you give to others applying to BAE Systems?
I would say that it is vital to research the business itself, to firstly ensure that it is the right fit for you, but also to show an eagerness to learn, which is something those interviewing will be looking for. I would also say if you aren't successful in your application the first time around then don't be disheartened, sometimes the difference a year can make on you, both professionally and in your general attitude towards like can be the difference between a successful and unsuccessful interview. If you are offered a place with the business then ensure you listen to all the advice given to you, there are years of experience within the shipyards and if you are willing to learn then most you will work with are willing to teach.
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