1. Please give an overview of your role and what this involves on a day-to-day basis:
I'm a Degree Apprentice on the Engineering Degree Apprenticeship Scheme at BAE Systems. My day to day tasks include collecting, analysing and reporting on various data and producing training documentation. I also get involved with project work, such as the one I'm currently working on which involves using VR technology. As an apprentice, I am involved with lots of different tasks to develop my professional skillset. I'm exposed to lots of different areas across the business to give me a better understanding of the breadth of work we do. From time to time, there are also opportunities to travel both nationally and internationally to see the work we do in action.
2. Have you learnt any new skills or developed existing skills?
BAE Systems sponsors my degree in Aerospace Engineering over the course of the 5 year apprenticeship. This constitutes most of my academic learning throughout my apprenticeship, but I also receive broader business training to help develop my professional skills. This includes both internal training specific to our business needs and external training which can be targeted at anything from product safety to engineering business management.
3. To what extent do you enjoy your programme?
One of the best things about my apprenticeship is how close-knit our apprentice group is. As we have spent a lot of time with each other over the last year in work, we have all become good friends who tend to spend most of our time outside of work with each other too. Having these strong social bonds has made my experience at BAE Systems even better than I thought it would be. Having such a strong network of contacts across the business early on really helped me when trying to solve problems where I needed to find guidance and information from different areas of the business.
4. How valued do you feel by BAE Systems?
Having reviews on my progress every 12 weeks allows me to see my progression throughout my apprenticeship. As well as this, I feel as though the teams I have worked with have valued my input, which is shown by my growing responsibilities as I am seen as a reliable team member. One task I was asked to help with involved travelling to see a customer and working with them. This showed that the business both valued my input and trusted me to work with customers as a representative of BAE Systems.
5. How well organised/structured is your programme?
As an apprentice joining in the first year of the Engineering Degree Apprenticeship Scheme, I was surprised at how well it is structured. We were given an excellent induction, receiving tours around most of the site facilities, which include state of the art technologies. The training we receive is excellent, which includes a fully funded degree in Aerospace Engineering. We have many sources of support both at work and university. One of the ways that BAE Systems ensures we are receiving the support we need is by holding progress reviews every 12 weeks, where a representative from the Early Careers department holds a meeting with my placement manager, a representative from the university and myself to discuss my progress since the last review. We agree objectives and goals for me to complete by my next review.
6a. How much support do you receive from your training provider?
A wide support network was established early on, with contacts both at work and college who are always available to discuss any problems I may have. They are all very supportive and clearly want to see everyone on the scheme reach their full potential. I think that the training provider is really good at communication with us degree apprentices and ensures are learning in on track and that they feed back to our apprenticeship leaders and managers as well.
6b. How much support do you receive from your employer?
My managers are very supportive, being open and friendly to discussions about anything I need. When discussing what I will be working on, they value my input and clearly consider my needs when making decisions. As an apprentice, they ensure that I am always pushing myself to grow and they involve me in much of the decision making processes to aid my learning. I would say that overall the help i receive is more than what i expected and really helpful.
7. How well does your salary/package meet your costs?
The Engineering Degree Apprenticeship Scheme provides an excellent salary which is more than double the amount of many other apprenticeships. It's one of the highest starting salaries for an apprenticeship in the UK and easily covers the cost of living in the local area, travelling to work and getting involved with social activities outside of work. I think that overall the wage could be slightly better but compared to that of other apprenticeships across the UK the wage is pretty decent really.
8. Are there many opportunities outside of work?
Personally, I have been involved with around a dozen company-sponsored events in the first year. Most of these have been STEM events where I have represented the company to talk to young people about a future career in engineering. BAE Systems has a large presence in the local community, particularly with local schools and colleges, where it encouraging young people to get involved with engineering activities and consider a future career in engineering.
9. Would you recommend BAE Systems to a friend?
At BAE Systems you get to work with world-leading engineers and state of the art technologies. Working with some of the products we make and knowing that you helped make them is extremely rewarding, it fosters a positive work culture, one where hard work is rewarded. The business is huge and there are plenty of opportunities to find the work that you want to do, with additional opportunities to travel both nationally and internationally.
10. What tips or advice would you give to others applying to BAE Systems?
Be passionate. Whatever role you're applying for, you need to show that you have a true passion for the work that you're going to be doing. As an engineer, I've always had a passion for building things, taking them apart and trying to get an understanding for how they work; I enjoy learning how complex things come together and function. This passion will drive your learning in the business and enable you to excel in your role, so that's the key attribute the business looks for when taking on new apprentices.
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