1. Please give an overview of your role and what this involves on a day-to-day basis:
Apprentices spend the first year of their apprenticeship at a training centre, where they learn a range of skills useful for the workplace, whilst also completing their first year BTEC qualification. Upon completing this first year, the apprentice come onto the site where they spend the next year moving around a range of different placements within the company. As an apprentice we have the opportunity to work with many people around the company, learning how each of the different departments of the company works. By moving around the company and experiencing a range of different roles, we can identify what we would like to do as a future career. Our third year of the apprenticeship involves selecting an area of the company we think is a suitable match for us and spending the year working in that placement as a normal employee would. This allows us to better integrate with a team of people and transition from an apprentice to employee better
2. Have you learnt any new skills or developed existing skills?
Since joining BAE Systems, I have learnt several new skills which I will use throughout my career. For example, I have learnt how to solder electrical components to military standards and have learnt how to plan and manage my own time to ensure that my workload is balanced between apprentice work, BTEC work and STEM/additional work.
3. To what extent do you enjoy your programme?
I really enjoy the apprentice programme run by BAE Systems, as it provides the opportunity to meet a range of different people, who all have lots of knowledge and experience that they are willing to share. Everyone is friendly and creates a welcoming environment that makes working for BAE Systems enjoyable.
4. How well organised/structured is your programme?
The apprenticeship scheme is a well structured programme, as the different segments required to be completed are all planned out and given to the apprentices as a timetable, so that they can clearly see when and where the different segments of the programme will be completed. Although not all of the fine details of the segments are 100% confirmed at the beginning of the programme, the apprentices are well notified of any changes or modifications to the programme
5. How much support do you receive from your employer?
I would say that a large amount of support is provided by the employer, as they are always available if help or support is needed. Whether this is through email or through a face-to-face meeting, the apprentice leadership team is always willing to provide support to the apprentices. Both personal and work-related issues can be discussed in confidentiality and professional helplines can be provided if further help is required
6. How much support do you receive from your training provider when working towards your qualifications?
The training provider, IPS International Training Centre provides support to the apprentices by helping them understand the content of the training scheme and by providing feedback on assignments submitted as part of the BTEC. The assignments would be marked by the tutors and returned to the apprentices who would then have the opportunity to read the feedback and improve upon the work before submitting the final version of the assignment. However, this feedback can often take a long time to receive and not all of the feedback is relevant to the assignment being submitted or is feedback that would not affect the result of the assignment, such as saying that the document is written in Calibri font rather than Arial font.
7. How well do you feel that your qualification (through your training provider) helps you to perform better in your role?
The BTEC qualifications received from the training provider helps me to perform better in my role, as they have given me a baseline knowledge which I can build upon to increase my understanding of areas of engineering commonly dealt with in my role. For example, I have developed my mathematical skills, allowing me to calculate electrical component values from a complex circuit using the mathematical methods taught during the BTEC training
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 many extra curricular activities to get involved in at my workplace, all suited to a range of different people. For example, we have a table tennis club which meets weekly during lunch times to play matches with one another. We also have a dragon boat race team which trains and competes in races throughout the year. There is also the opportunity to become a STEM ambassador and represent the company by attending events throughout the year, aimed a school children to allow them to experience what engineering companies, such as ourselves, do and what engineering allows them to explore.
9a. Would you recommend BAE Systems to a friend?
The culture of the company is really friendly and welcoming. Everyone is made to feel included and is not discriminated because of their race, age, gender, sexuality, beliefs, etc. As apprentices we are welcomed into the company and made to feel as if we are part of the team, rather than individuals and get to learn from the people who have spent their lives gaining knowledge and expertise in specific areas of work. The apprentice scheme allows for a range of knowledge to be gained and lots of new skills can be learnt. Even if apprentices choose to leave the company after their apprenticeship has finished, they will have left with new skills and knowledge that they can use in other jobs.
10. What tips or advice would you give to others applying to BAE Systems?
Don't be afraid to get involved and get stuck in with the culture of the company. Enjoy speaking to employees who have worked at the company for most of their adult lives and learn from their experiences. Everyone is welcoming and open to have a conversation, so don't feel like you cannot speak to anyone because you are an apprentice at the bottom of the company and they are a manager of a team. Get involved and enjoy your time at the company.