1. Please give an overview of your role and what this involves on a day-to-day basis:
I am an apprentice, I am based at Boscombe Down, my day to day consists of lessons, workshop/lab time and completing knowledge questions that are required to meet the NVQ criteria. Occasionally we are back at site for some tasks/events. There is a lot of self directed learning during knowledge question sessions.
2. Have you learnt any new skills or developed existing skills?
I have learnt new skills as I was new to engineering when I started and had never had any interaction with electrics beforehand. We have completed a couple of external training courses such as IOSH and are set to complete a few more over the course of our apprenticeship. My team work skills have also improved.
3. To what extent do you enjoy your programme?
During our first year I really enjoyed the programme as the learning was consistent and interesting. However, during our second year there has been a lot less learning offered and a loss of teachers that have not been replaced, resulting in more time spent answering knowledge questions and a few lessons spread throughout the timetable.
4. How well organised/structured is your programme?
Due to the loss of teachers and their not being replaced it has resulted in a loss of structure to our learning, as well as what appears to be not very good communication between and from management to us and to our line managers back at site. Also we don't have adequate time allocated to completing certain tasks as the time often gets taken over by something else.
5. How much support do you receive from your employer?
I believe I receive a moderate amount of support from my employer through my line manager, as I am at Boscombe Down at the moment I do not have much interaction with people back at site. My line manager seems to have our best interests at heart and works to get us into areas that we want to be in.
6. How much support do you receive from your training provider when working towards your qualifications?
From our training provider we again receive moderate support and most of us meet our targets. However, again the loss of teachers has impacted this and meant that we at times have to bolster our own learning in order to meet our targets and qualifications. Despite this I feel that the remaining tutors try their best to support us.
7. How well do you feel that your qualification (through your training provider) helps you to perform better in your role?
I feel that the first year the training and instruction received was useful and related to possible roles that we could end up on placement in. However, this seems to have tapered slightly in the second year as the majority of our exams have been taken and yet again the loss of teachers has impacted the training we receive.
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.)
Our training provider uses Cortex, but I am not sure if all events are open to DSTL apprentices too. I have not heard much about things offered by DSTL, but I do know that there are occasionally events that some apprentices are selected for and attend with our line manager etc. but not everyone has been chosen to attend an event.
9a. Would you recommend DSTL to a friend?
I feel that DSTL itself has a lot to offer and could provide a very rewarding and interesting career. I would not, however, suggest going through the apprenticeship with the current training provider as it currently is. As the training provider for the first part of the apprenticeship is currently lacking in what it's achieving, but I cannot speak for the second half of the apprenticeship that is back at DSTL and I have high hopes.
10. What tips or advice would you give to others applying to DSTL?
I would say that you need to be calm and properly think through any questions or scenarios that are given to you and to show that you have valuable skills that you are bringing forward to DSTL. It's also a good idea to put yourself forward for whatever is offered to you as there is a lot of doors that can be opened through meeting people at DSTL.
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