Powering ahead with cutting-edge apprenticeships #NAW2016

As National Apprenticeship Week rolls on, with events and celebrations taking place across the UK, ADS is celebrating the inspiring apprentices working in our sectors.

In 2014, the UK Aerospace and Defence sectors contributed 3,300 and 4,400 apprentices respectively. Both sectors offer global growth opportunities that are vital to the UK’s high-tech, high-skill, high-wage economy, and many of their apprentices are working on world-leading technologies.

Today, we speak to Jessica Herbert at Rolls-Royce about her exciting apprenticeship and role as a STEM Ambassador. Rolls-Royce is a global company providing highly-efficient integrated power and propulsion solutions. Its power systems are predominantly used in aerospace, marine, energy and off-highway applications.

Name: Jessica Herbert

Age: 19

Title of Apprenticeship: Rolls-Royce Advanced Technical Apprentice, Defence Aerospace

Year of Apprenticeship: 3rd Year

What inspired you to become an apprentice?

For me, an apprenticeship offered the perfect compromise of theoretical classroom-based learning and real-life experience within the workplace.

It was the inspiration of the world’s fastest car, the Bloodhound SSC project and team, which eventually motivated me to apply for an apprenticeship at Rolls-Royce in 2013. The project itself excited me from the moment I first heard about it. The concept of a 1000mph car prompted me to ask so many questions that I realised I wanted a career in engineering.

With the Bloodhound SSC team based so close to where I lived in Bristol, UK, it was impossible not to get involved, with both myself and my dad eventually becoming ambassadors for the project and attending many of their events. By having the team so close I was able to ask more and more about careers and what alternative routes there were into engineering. It was this coupled with the experiences of friends and family who had previously done apprenticeships which helped me realise that it was for me and it was what I enjoyed. An apprenticeship was the ideal route into engineering for me.

What’s your favourite thing about working at Rolls-Royce?

Rolls-Royce offers a lot of opportunities to apprentices both through career and personal development. For example, I’m a Rolls-Royce STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) Ambassador which means I get the chances to attend air shows such as the Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) and Farnborough International Airshow to talk to children about what I do. As a STEM Ambassador you develop skills such as team work and delivering presentations to a range of groups. For me, my favourite thing about working at Rolls-Royce is not only these opportunities but the experiences gained as an apprentice.

Throughout my time so far I’ve been able to involve myself in several projects, helping to implement new systems or even working towards passing key engineering audits that led to Civil Aviation Authority accreditation and authorised operation of one of our engine assembly lines. This has given me such a huge range of experiences, knowledge and connections within the workplace and has enabled me to develop myself further as I carry knowledge from one placement to the next. Being able to work in a range of dynamic teams and environments means every day is as exciting as my first.

What is the most exciting project you have worked on during your apprenticeship?

Throughout my apprenticeship I’ve been involved in a range of different projects from commissioning the production of new fixtures that allow us to be more cost efficient and carry out critical repairs in-house to developing new supplier relationships. For me however, the most exciting project has been the one that I am currently working on.

Within my current team, Maintenance Repair and Overhaul Kitting, (who work to build up kits of parts that will be used to assemble engines and modules), we are working to implement the ‘Production System’. This is a new management system that oversees our daily work and focuses on making and sustaining improvements within our current operational methods. To do this I am always investigating new ways of completing tasks, setting up measurement and analysis systems or working with the team to implement new standards within the area.

This is a companywide system and, if our team can succeed, we will be the only kitting/stores area within the company to have done so to date – being able to say I’ve worked on that is pretty exciting!

What advice would you give to others considering an apprenticeship?

For people considering an apprenticeship I’d advise them to look at the fantastic opportunities it will offer over other routes. For me it has been an amazing experience and I’ve gained a lot of new skills over the past three years while also earning a salary.

My experience of apprenticeships has been very self-driven and I’ve been encouraged to seek out opportunities rather than let them come to me so it’s been a chance to push myself into situations I haven’t encountered before.

If you’re considering an apprenticeship and want to develop both academically and professionally then I’d highly recommend applying or going to an open-evening!