Apprentices play an important role in the UK Aerospace, Defence, Security and Space sectors, and that’s why our sectors are proud to employ 12,000 of them.

ADS works to support initiatives that encourage young people to get involved in STEM activities, for example the UK Youth Rocketry Challenge which encourages schools to build and launch their own rocket, and Futures Day at Farnborough International Airshow. Futures Day, the industry’s single largest STEM and outreach activity, is designed to stimulate and encourage people aged 11-21 into the Aerospace, Defence and Space sectors.

For National Apprenticeship Week, we talk to Billie Sequeira, 21, who is a technical apprentice at BAE Systems’ Electronic Systems business unit based in Rochester, Kent.

Billie Sequeira, Technical Apprentice, Electronic Systems

Billie is in the second year of a 3-year apprenticeship, where she’s currently rotating through various areas of the business and getting a taste of numerous engineering disciples; setting her on a path to one day become a qualified engineer.

Billies always had a keen interest in engineering, which naturally made physics and maths her strongest and favourite subjects. She had originally planned to study one of these subjects at university, but a work experience visit to BAE Systems in Rochester prompted her to reconsider her options. Eventually a decision was made that the ‘learn while you earn’ apprenticeship approach was best for her.

Billie said: “I thought long and hard about whether to go to university or do an apprenticeship. In the end I chose an apprenticeship because I thought it was a great opportunity to gain some real hands-on experience from experts in their fields. I am still keen to complete a degree, and will have the opportunity to do this following the completion of my scheme at BAE Systems.”

In the first year of the Technical Apprenticeship scheme, students study off-site at a local training provider. During this time, apprentices develop foundational competencies in basic engineering, preparing them for the working world.

Billie said: “During the first year of my apprenticeship I spent five days a week training, learning both practical and theoretical engineering skills, with a focus on electronics. I especially enjoyed the hands-on workshop environment. This was an entirely new environment for me; it was great to gain experience in a friendly and safe place, following the appropriate training from industry experts.”

Now into the second year of the apprenticeship, Billie is more integrated into the working aspect of the scheme. She spends one day a week learning to complete her qualifications and the remaining four days between six different departments, where she can pull knowledge from a vast network of world-class engineers. Every day is different, one day Billie might be working on the world’s most advanced fast-jet helmet, and the next day, studying the flight control systems you’ll find on your everyday passenger aircraft.

Billie explains: “It’s exciting to be involved in the development of new technologies, learn more about the aerospace industry, and to think that I could be working on systems used worldwide. This is all while I continue to develop new skills and gain experience, which I will hopefully use soon to contribute towards future advancements in technology.”

An important work and social life balance is important to Billie, which is supported by the Company’s flexible working policy. She enjoys socialising with friends and is a keen music fan, attending gigs as often as possible. She’s also the proud owner of two dogs, which take up a lot of her time! Billie believes that considering an apprenticeship is something that young people should do when thinking about their future.

Billie added: “I would definitely recommend applying for an apprenticeship. BAE Systems has offered me high-quality training and practical expertise in world-leading technology. There are endless opportunities to progress into different roles and positions, and I know I’ll have a number of career options following my apprenticeship.”

Read about other apprentices in our sectors – updated throughout National Apprenticeship Week.