1. Please give an overview of your role and what this involves on a day-to-day basis:
My role within the company is to complete my college and NVQ commitments whilst also progressing through a series of work based placements throughout the company to ensure I have a variety of experiences before completing my scheme. The first year of this scheme involved a full time year at college completing a HNC in General Engineering and a PEO Level 2. My second year now involves completing a two year HND on day release whilst completing 4 month rotational placements. My experiences from these placements are also utilised in the completion of a NVQ Level 4.
2. Have you learnt any new skills or developed existing skills?
So far I would say I have learnt a few new skills on some of my placements however I would say that some placement's haven't been the most rewarding experiences for personal development. This is mainly due to department's having too little work to pass onto apprentices or the work load being too high so there is a rush to complete work, meaning the time to teach me new skills required for a task may not be available. However, I would say that overall a majority of people I have worked with are very enthusiastic about helping me learn which is really encouraging as an apprentice. You usually can ask anyone in a department for help and they will gladly help you wherever they can.
3. To what extent do you enjoy your programme?
Enjoyment on the programme for me has solely been reliant on the placement I've been working in. When I've been in a placement were I'm being given work and the office environment is sociable then I'm usually extremely happy and content. However, on the occasion where I'm left to my own devices due to a shortage of work then weeks on end of no productivity can lead to a sense of uselessness - which is never good for anyone. Overall though, I do enjoy the programme quite a lot.
4. How well organised/structured is your programme?
I would say in general the programme structure is fine and that so far I have had no issues with the way the apprenticeship scheme is being run. I've always found the company has a real emphasis on the development of apprentices and they genuinely will try to cater for everyone on the programme. There are a many number of placements available and as long as you can network successfully then it is usually okay to organise your own work based placements as long as enough notice is given.
I would say however that in the first year of full time college that I did not really feel like part of the company due to limited connection to the Dockyard. This however, has been discussed in apprenticeship meetings and I imagine will be resolved for future apprentices.
5. How much support do you receive from your employer?
In my opinion, one of the strongest aspects of this apprenticeship for me is the support that has been received from the company as a whole. Although I did not receive much help from the company when I first moved to this area, which I found rather difficult, I would say that during my work here I have been fully supported whenever needed.
This has recently included my apprenticeship manager going well out of their way in order to organise a transfer for me to help me move a lot closer to my family. This included weekly updates and them networking across all the sites in the North West to discuss a transfer with the teams there. I was really surprised by how much effort was put into making sure I am happy within the company - which I think is extremely rare for an employer to do. I have been incredibly grateful for this and it has made some difficult family issues a lot more tolerable knowing I will be moved closer to home.
6. How much support do you receive from your training provider when working towards your qualifications?
Overall I feel the support from my training providers has been to a high standard and I can ask for help whenever needed for my NVQ level 4. The NVQ training is provided internally within BAE Systems. However the HNC and HND are completed within a local college and I have found that sometimes this college has issues with staffing due to teachers leaving quite often. This can mean some subjects are very rushed or not taught to the best standard. As well as this the college is rather crowded due to its small size, this means I much prefer completing college work at home as its easier to concentrate.
7. How well do you feel that your qualification (through your training provider) helps you to perform better in your role?
I feel the HNC/HND will sometimes be useful but this will solely be dependant on the type of work being conducted within my work based placements. The NVQ Level 4 however is relevant to work as its solely completed through the par-taking in work based tasks. Overall I would say that the HNC/HND are useful though as they allow me to understand a higher level of engineering.
8. Are there extra-curricular activities to get involved in at your work? (For example, any social activities, sports teams, or even professional networking events.)
There are a few activities to get involved in such as weekly football games or an occasional apprentice night out. However, I think the emphasis is usually placed upon the individual to socialise within their year group as there are not many events that take place in all honesty.
9a. Would you recommend BAE Systems to a friend?
I think this apprenticeship is genuinely one of the best to get within the country. Every qualification you get is paid for by the company and whilst completing them, you also get paid an extremely generous wage. You gain an insight into what the real engineering work environment looks like and I myself have grown tremendously in confidence whilst communicating with other people within the company. Compared to university, where you accrue an insane amount of debt, gain very limited practical experience and also don't get the same level of support as at BAE Systems - it really is a no brainer to choose this apprenticeship over going to university. If a degree is what your after, then if you succeed in your HND it is now very common for some apprentices to get a degree paid for, as well as the HNC/HND/NVQL4.
10. What tips or advice would you give to others applying to BAE Systems?
Make sure you emphasise your passion for the company and try to write an application that also makes you seem interesting as a person. Talk about hobbies/clubs you partake in and try to include examples of whenever you've worked within a team. Try to also show that engineering really interest you by maybe mentioning past engineering projects that you've been involved in.
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