What did you study at school?
For my GCSEs I studied English, Maths and Science, Additional Maths, Additional Science, English Literature, Business Studies, French, History. After this, I took A-Levels in Maths, Further Maths and Physics at Richard Huish College in Taunton.
Why did you think an apprenticeship was the right path for your career development?
After my A-Levels, I had to choose between the Physics university courses I had been accepted for and the apprenticeship. The main reason I thought an apprenticeship was the right path for my career development was because it offered valued years of workplace experience whilst still providing the opportunity to gain additional qualifications, and an apprenticeship is a great way to enter a large engineering company. Also, I wasn’t exactly sure what I would eventually use the Physics degree towards, yet an apprenticeship offered a clear and structured career plan for the first five years of my career. Other reasons include being paid while you’re learning, and also experiencing various jobs within the company first hand.
Why did you choose to join Leonardo?
I joined Leonardo because of the quality and diversity of the training scheme; apprentices here experience many different job roles throughout their course so you get a real feel for the business. The Leonardo apprenticeship offered three academic and vocational qualifications, the chance to join a large company, and the opportunity to work in aeronautical engineering.
What is your current position at Leonardo?
I’m now a full time employee, working as a Software Engineer within Avionics. Since October 2016, I’ve been a part of the Software Requirements and Analysis team. This followed the completion of my four-year apprenticeship.
Tell us about your typical week
My job role currently includes work with low-level detailed software design requirements, specifications and HMI design. I’m also studying part-time for a Bachelor’s degree in Electronic Engineering at the University of the West of England; this works on a day-release basis, similar to the apprenticeship whereby one day a week I’ll be off-site, attending lectures and classes at university.
What do you like most about your job?
The work is varied and challenging with its complexity. My job has direct involvement with the customer and affects the design of the software implemented on the aircraft. It’s great to work for a manufacturing company where production is completed on-site and you can see the finished product and the results of your work in action, which in my case means helicopters flying overhead.
What has been your best moment/biggest achievement so far?
There have been several. After my final year as an apprentice, I was nominated for and awarded the EEF Future Manufacturing Award for the Regional (South West) Final Year Apprentice of the Year for which I’m truly grateful and honoured. I was also awarded the Technician Apprentice of the Year award and the Managing Director’s Cup award from the company, a Whitworth Scholarship from the Whitworth Society to support my degree studies, and I was named ‘Apprentice of the Year’ at the 2016 Believe In Somerset Awards. I attended the National EEF Future Manufacturing Awards in January 2017, as a finalist for Final Year Apprentice of the Year, and received an EEF Rising Star Award.
What do you hope to do next?
I aim to finish my Bachelor’s degree and extend this to a Master’s degree, with a target of First Class Honours. Looking ahead, I will become professionally registered with the IET and expand my experience and expertise within Avionics and Software Engineering.
Why should someone consider an apprenticeship as a career option?
An apprenticeship offers you academic qualifications, as well as professional development, industry experience and a salary. The opportunities within an apprenticeship can reach as far as degree courses and postgraduate study, so there is no loss compared to studying full-time at university.
Apprentices are highly regarded employees as they’ve been taught what they know by the experts currently in the field and can gain years of experience whilst studying for their qualifications, applying what they’re learning to their work along the way.