1. Please give an overview of your role and what this involves on a day-to-day basis:
I am an Engineering Apprentice with dstl on the third and final year of the Advanced Apprenticeship in Mechanical/Electrical Engineering.
We get to experience various placements over the three years, each lasting 8-10 weeks, situated at Porton Down and other dstl sites. So far, at Porton Down I have worked in the Light Fabrication/Sheet Metal and Machining sections of the workshop, as well as in the Design Office. At Fort Halstead, I worked with another apprentice to design a piece of equipment to be used in trials and manufactured another piece of equipment using a CNC milling machine and lathe. At Alverstoke, I learnt all about repairing radiation detection and measurement equipment.
Every day is different. Some days are spent in the workshop making things, while other days I might be at the desk writing up job reports for my NVQ3.
2. Have you learnt any new skills or developed existing skills?
During the apprenticeship we have got to attend various training courses that help us work safely in our daily roles, such as Manual Handling Awareness and Safe Use of Industrial Gases.
Upon completion of the apprenticeship I will have attained a Level 3 Technical Certificate in Mechanical Manufacturing, a Level 3 Extended NVQ in Engineering Maintenance (Communications/Electronics pathway), and other smaller qualifications such as Functional Skills.
3. To what extent do you enjoy your programme?
The apprenticeship programme with dstl has been a really good opportunity for me. I've found the role varied and challenging, and the work has provided lots of opportunities to meet new people, work in interesting areas and gain plenty of hands-on experience.
The teams I have worked in have all been very accommodating and everyone has been to help us learn new skills and develop new ones.
dstl is clearly investing in the apprenticeship scheme and we are all keen to take up work with the company if offered upon completion of the apprenticeship in September 2015.
4. How valued do you feel by DSTL?
I feel well valued by my manager and the company as a whole. We are treated like a member of the team and are provided with lots of opportunities to develop new skills and get involved with big projects.
5. How well organised/structured is your programme?
The organisation of the programme has been improved since I started my apprenticeship. For me, I found that we spent a lot of time at QATS studying things we didn't need to, and while the variety of work has been amazing, I haven't had much time to develop the skills relevant to my pathway.
6a. How much support do you receive from your training provider?
The support received from QATS has been excellent. I am now on my main site permanently, but I still have regular contact with my NVQ assessor.
6b. How much support do you receive from your employer?
I have received lots of support from my employer. The management are very accommodating and colleagues are always willing to help me out.
7. How well does your salary/package meet your costs?
I think the salary offered is very good for an apprenticeship scheme. I have had to budget to afford rent, council tax, bills etc but this is to be expected at this level of my career.
8. Are there many opportunities outside of work?
dstl has lots of different sports and hobbies clubs that all staff can get involved with.
9a. Would you recommend DSTL to a friend? *
9b. Why? *
A dstl apprenticeship provides an opportunity to experience a really wide and interesting scope of work. The company has a positive culture and offers a good package of benefits for its staff.
10. What tips or advice would you give to others applying to DSTL? *
In both the application and interview the key thing to convey is your interest and enthusiasm for engineering. Many of us found the ability tests quite challenging so it is worth getting a bit of practice online beforehand!
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