We spoke to apprentices from across our industries to find out about their experiences as they form a key part of our future. The UK is facing a skills shortage with an annual shortfall of 59,000 engineers. In this Year of Engineering, the UK looks to inspire young people to pursue a career in the area, so that we can meet demand and retain our competitiveness. Apprenticeships are a great avenue for young people to get into engineering and we find out why from the people who do them.

Why an apprenticeship?

Jacob Stevens from MBDA spoke to us about why he chose an apprenticeship: “I was looking at future career choices and I knew that I didn’t really want the university lifestyle but I wanted to pursue further education so I looked into apprenticeships; I thought it’d be a fantastic way to get my degree and gain work experience. From what I heard after researching careers, I decided that to combine getting a degree with gaining 4 years of experience in industry would be the best way to start my career.”

Apprenticeships have a lot of benefits, George Wormald-Kelly from Atkins said: “Doing an apprenticeship is an interesting contrast to doing a university course in a similar discipline. I think it offers a lot of benefits whereby you’re working in industry at the same time as learning. There’s an obvious financial benefit to it but it’s also a good way to build your connections in the industry and you can get a better appreciation for what you’re studying by doing it in real life.”

George from Atkins, apprentice

Aerospace and Defence

Our industries provide a vast range of experiences and an apprenticeship in them can be unparalleled. Alex Benez from Senior Aerospace Bird Bellows said: “There’s a sense of community in the [aerospace] industry. Even if your company makes a fraction of something, without you there wouldn’t be the whole and so it makes it feel unique.” In our industries smaller companies can contribute to large programmes through the supply chain and apprenticeships provide a large part of companies’ capabilities to deliver projects.

James Sutton provides the perspective of being an apprentice in the military, more specifically, the Royal Air Force: “Being in the military really tests your aptitude, your ability to take on knowledge quickly and the retention of that knowledge. We’re multi-disciplinary in nature, we’re very niche, we take on a lot, and we add a lot of value to operations.”

What’s the best thing about being an apprentice?

Ellie-May Bettinson from General Dynamics UK shares what she thinks the best thing about being an apprentice is: “We get to learn about a lot of different projects in the company and we get to contribute to certain engineering activities that we wouldn’t have the opportunity to do otherwise if we went to university.”

Liam Molloy from the Army’s Royal Engineers added: “My apprenticeship made me realise how much knowledge I can hold and it’s made me realise I can learn things on my own and I don’t have to be in a classroom environment.”

Thinking about an apprenticeship in one of our industries? Visit us on Futures Day at Farnborough International Airshow 2018.