1. Please give an overview of your role and what this involves on a day-to-day basis:
So at the moment I am nearly 18 months into my apprenticeship. I am currently at a QinetiQ site training. Generally our day to day work involves a mixture of theory and and practical training and development. We learn knowledge and skills that should help us on our placements when we go back to site in April. We also have regular trips to our site in Porton so that we keep in touch with the company and familiarize ourselves with the different placement opportunities that are available to us.
2. Have you learnt any new skills or developed existing skills?
I have learnt various new skills since joining DSTLs apprenticeship. I joined having already completed a Level 3 Mechanical Maintenance/Machining Apprenticeship in my home town. I have learned a complete new skill set through working on electrical/electronics and feel that they will serve me well in the future. I have learnt skills such as soldering, circuit design/building, wiring, risk assessing, working on live electronics and lots of others that I never touched on my previous apprenticeship.
3. To what extent do you enjoy your programme?
I really enjoy my trips back to our home site as the training center can be tedious and stressful. Being back at site we meet lots of new and interesting people and we feel valued as workers. We get put on extended short courses that provide us with various certificates and qualifications, such as IOSH which i recently obtained. I also look forward to the possibilities for us in the future for further development.
4. How well organised/structured is your programme?
At the moment we a based at the training center which is operated by QinetiQ. I feel that the programme QinetiQ provide isn't as well structured as it could be. However when issues have risen, our managers at DSTL are extremely quick to act on them and get the issues amended for us. The structure at DSTL is brilliant. We all have placements prepared for us and a clear plan of what is happening. We get regular updates and any changes that are going to made and notified how this will effect us.
5. How much support do you receive from your employer?
DSTL are an amazing company to be employed with and the management team are fantastic in providing us with the support we need whether that be work related or not. We are provided with access to an Employee Assistance Line who can be contacted when you are facing difficult periods in your life, who provide you with help and reassurance. We also have an onsite Occupational Health team with a dedicated building and doctor to support you. Management are very supportive of work you wish to carry out and supporting you with funding for further education. We are also reminded how critical us apprentices are to the structure of the company and are never left feeling like cheap labor. Top management are always visible and are approachable. There aren't many apprentices that can say they have met and shaken the hand of their CEO who has taken time out of his day just to come and meet us and introduce himself.
6. How much support do you receive from your training provider when working towards your qualifications?
We have had issues with our provider, however most of the instructors there have gone above and beyond to help us. They have held recap sessions, gone through sections with individuals to help them understand parts that they are confused about and are willing to adapt their teaching methods to support people who need to be taught in a different way.
7. How well do you feel that your qualification (through your training provider) helps you to perform better in your role?
I feel that there are some aspects of the course that our training provider gives us, that we wont use when we go back to our employer and there are some aspects that are not in the course city and guilds set that we should be taught. However coming from a mechanical background i have undoubtedly learnt new skills from the qualification that will support me in my future role.
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.)
Yes there are. Our employer has a program called STEPs, which organises social activities such as a trips to theme parks, paint balling and even evening meals where you can network and meet new people who you may not normally have the opportunity to work with. I have also completed STEM ambassador training which allows me to network the company at career events and school talk. I have also taken part in various competitions such as the Sir Henry Royce and Tom Nevard competition, as well as the Royal Navy Engineering Challenge. We also have opportunities to attend fairs and conferences such as the Policing and Security conference that i will be attending on behalf of the company in march. there is also the opportunity to work abroad .
9a. Would you recommend DSTL to a friend?
I just feel this is a fantastic company to work for. They treat their employees extremely well and provide plenty of opportunities to network with your colleagues, develop your skills and further your knowledge and education. They allow employees to attend functions and competitions because they want you to take pride in your work and demonstrate when the companies employees are capable of. And as I mentioned before, top management are approachable and friendly and there aren't many people who can say they have met and shaken hands with their CEO.
10. What tips or advice would you give to others applying to DSTL?
During the application process, be honest about everything when going through vetting because they will have ran checks on you already. When attending your interview, be sure to prepare properly for it. The aren't expecting you to know everything about the company and role you are applying for, but showing them you have the initiative and effort to spend some time finding out about them will look brilliant. In the interview, if they ask you something you are unsure about, be honest and say you don't know, but mention you would like to find out more (be serious about it). The time spent at the training provider can be stressful and tedious, but stick with it and get through it. When you are in company, take every chance you can to develop your skills and knowledge, and take any opportunities you can. Don't put yourself forward for something you know you will back out of because it will look bad on you. And if you are unsure of something or need help, just ask. There are plenty of people who are willing to help.
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