Apprenticeships can help individuals to develop the skills and knowledge required for a rewarding career, and businesses to develop a talented workforce.
With the average university debt accumulating to nearly £50,000 for most students in the UK, apprenticeships have never looked more appealing. Since May, 2015 there have been 2,662,900 apprenticeship starts in the UK with 130,200 new starts alone between August to October in the 2020/2021 academic year.
Raytheon UK spoke to some of their current cohort of apprentices on what led them down their career path.
Adele: Aeronautical Mechanical Apprentice
Adele, 21, nearly found a career in the frozen food aisle after struggling to decide what to do after school, but a rapid change of direction saw her career defrost and take to the skies.
Passionate about metal work and design technology, Adele had quickly discovered she enjoyed making things, but couldn’t cope with a traditional educational approach.
Now in her third year as an aeronautical mechanical apprentice, Adele has gone from strength to strength and even took home a bronze medal in the 2021 World Skills UK Competition in late November, building on a gold medal in Skills Competition Wales earlier last year.
“I was doing maths, physics and design technology in the hopes to go to university to do some sort of engineering,” she said.
“But I really struggled with the structure of it all, and I felt like if I didn’t enjoy A-Levels, I wouldn’t enjoy university. So, I thought I’d go to the engineering college and do an NVQ and do a lot more practical stuff.”
After enrolling at Coleg Cambria in Wrexham, Adele’s confidence immediately increased and with it, her success. She now remains focused on the lengthy process of earning her engineering license, a substantial step that will see her responsible for approving aircraft as “ready to fly.”
“I love being asked ‘What do you do?’ because people always think I’m at university, and they might not know what an apprenticeship is. They’re always shocked when I tell them, ‘I work on planes’ or ‘I helped with an engine swap today.’”
James: Aircraft Electrician Apprenticeship
James, 20, has an interest in aircraft that goes back to his childhood, when he visited an airshow with his family.
When debating what to do after school, James knew that remaining in further education was important to him, however the security of earning a wage whilst continuing to learn was what finalised his decision.
“I saw apprenticeships as a debt-free option to further education. I could continue my learning and be supported in further education opportunities all while earning a proper wage and making connections in an entirely new company.”
While some people may be concerned at the idea of learning a completely new trade, James knew it was the right path for him. Now in his final year, he looks to finish his aero-electrical craft apprenticeship at Broughton this March and qualify as an aircraft electrician.
“To be an apprentice is to take on a completely new trade with, in most cases, next to no previous experience.
“The best thing is being able to do something different every day, not one day in work has been the same. One day could be doing benchwork to manufacture a wiring harness and the next could be routing and terminating cable on the aircraft itself,” he said.
Raytheon UK’s Chief Executive, Jeff Lewis, has a similar background, starting his career as an apprentice in the steel industry. On the importance of offering apprenticeships to all ages, he said, “Having the option to start an apprenticeship, at any age, is important for both individuals and businesses to develop and grow together.
“I started my career as an apprentice, and I know how beneficial hands-on industry expertise, advice and learning can be. At Raytheon UK, we hope to offer our apprentices the same industry support and career progression.”
To learn more about apprenticeships and careers at Raytheon UK, click here.