College course completed: Engineering Level 3 in 2017
It’s great to see you again, what are you up to now?
I’m on the Higher Apprenticeship scheme with BAE Systems in Barrow-in-Furness. I’m working full-time and studying for my HNC at the same time.
What’s the apprenticeship like?
It’s a 3-year scheme, the first two years I’m studying for the HNC & HND, and I’ll be going onto the BA Mechanical Engineering Degree in the last year. BAE Systems fund the course, all my education and extra-curricular tasks, and pay me a good salary, which is comparable to other engineering apprenticeships across the country.
What was the application process like?
Our College tutors arranged visits from apprentices, to help us understand what was needed and how best to apply. Applications ended about mid-January and people apply from all over the country. If you get through the application stage, there are spelling and grammar checks and an online aptitude test. After passing these, you are invited to an Assessment Centre which consists of an interview, presentation on a chosen discipline or subject, and a group task where you are observed. I presented about ‘Shock’ (my engineering discipline) and said why it’s important. You have to put a lot of research into it, which helps with the interview and the role, as you get an understanding of what you are doing.
What other opportunities are there in BAE Systems?
BAE is a global organisation divided up into different business sectors, land vehicles, surface based, aerospace, submarines. The apprenticeship scheme gives you the opportunity to cross over to other sectors if you can give a reasonable business case.
Did anything surprise you when you started?
The real surprise was the level of involvement - you get stuck in and your work contributes to the building of these boats.
How did the college course prepare you for the apprenticeship?
The tutors at College have industry experience, they understand how the working world is and they prepare you for it. Their knowledge and experience and guidance was there throughout the application and interview processes.
The course gives you a basic understanding of Engineering, enabling you to move onto specialist areas.
Why did you decide to come to College?
I did A Levels for a year after school but they weren’t for me. After 6 years working on minimum wage, I decided I wanted something better.
What opportunities did you have at College?
I took part in Student Council, I was a Student Ambassador and Student Governor whilst at college. These help develop you as a person and you see how things work. It’s really good to learn how the governance of a college works, it’s not the experience you will get anywhere else. I gained self-confidence in speaking in front of a large group of important people, an understanding that your voice matters, and that in everything you do, if you are in a position to put your point of view forward, you should do so.
I also went to Amsterdam to look at the pump houses and see the largest piston in the world. Amsterdam is below sea level so the pump houses are vital in keeping it dry! We also saw one of the largest 3D printers in the world being used to make concrete houses!
Where would you like to be in 5 years’ time?
I hope to see out my career here. There are a lot of very good firms around here, but I am very interested in the product we make.