To celebrate National Apprenticeship Week 2013, we take a look at two apprentices; one past and one present, and highlight the opportunities their schemes provided.
Ashley Fry, 21, is undertaking a three-year advanced technology apprenticeship scheme at O2, based in their offices in Slough. He is also in training for the 2016 Olympics in Rio as a 400m hurdler.
Ashley joined O2’s Advanced Technology Apprenticeship Scheme in September 2010 and is due to finish in August this year. He has spent six months in four different departments: IT, networks, programmes and security.
“It has given me a great insight into the varying opportunities available to me from across the company,” he says. “I joined the scheme straight from school, after finishing my A levels and am guaranteed a permanent job at the end of the two years so I am looking forward to finding out which department I am going to be working in on a permanent basis.
“The scheme has been great for me from a networking point of view. There is a great connection between the teams in the north and the south of the country and I feel that I have built a really strong support network, with a fantastic line manager who has been extremely encouraging.
“I would thoroughly recommend the apprenticeship scheme to anyone who is looking to learn about the world of work, amongst inspiring, supportive people and I have absolutely loved my experience so far. It is very different from school life and I feel I have learnt so much about how to conduct myself in a professional environment.
“As an athlete training for the 400m hurdles at the next Olympic Games in Rio 2016, I train four nights a week and both mornings each weekend. But with the gym at work it is easy to fit my work around training and I feel that I have a good work/life balance.”
Ann Pickering, HR director for Telefónica UK, which owns O2, says young people are an important part of its business.
“Having grown up in the digital world, they possess valuable digital skills which many other workers simply don’t. That’s why in 2013, we’re not only increasing the number of apprenticeships on offer, but are opening our doors to inspire the next generation and help them take informed steps into the world of work.
“We believe that there is an untapped wealth of skill and knowledge sitting within the youth community but not enough is being done to harness it. As thousands of young people look to start their careers in 2013, all businesses, big and small, can play their part.”
Jenny Westworth, 23, completed a Semta Advanced Apprenticeship in aerospace engineering at BAE Systems in 2010 and was crowned the first ever National Apprenticeship Champion of the Year in 2012 at the National Apprenticeship Awards. She is now a manufacturing engineer at BAE Systems and combines her job working on the final assembly line for the Typhoon Aircraft with studying for an aeronautical HND.
“I originally applied for university because I’d done well in GCSEs and A levels and it’s just what you did at my school,” says Jenny. “When it came to choosing a uni, I realised the nearest one to do anything I might be interested in was three hours away. For me, I felt there was much more opportunity from an apprenticeship and it’s given me the chance to see and understand a business from different angles.”
Jenny was nominated in the awards due to her significant achievements at BAE Systems and also her role as an education ambassador for the company and as a STEM ambassador for her region. The award recognises the significant impact apprentices make to their employer’s business development and growth and the former apprentices’ role in championing apprenticeships to schools, young people and the public at large. She polled the most public votes against the eleven other short-listed finalists.
“It’s nice to be acknowledged and also to represent the company,” says Jenny. “My career stems from the support BAE Systems has given me, so it’s great to be able to give something back.”
As well as working on the Typhoon, Jenny has also worked on projects to support the Hawk and Tornado aircraft.
The apprenticeship Jenny undertook is now called the Engineering Manufacture Advanced Apprenticeship at Level 3 and covers a broad range of engineering sectors such as automotive, aerospace, electronics and marine, mechanical, electrical, and metals.
Commenting on Jenny’s success, Nigel Whitehead, group managing director, programmes and support, at BAE Systems says: “She’s truly set the standard for apprenticeships having combined practical skills, excellent academic achievements and great teamwork. Her hard work and passion for engineering and the apprenticeship programme has been hugely motivating to many other young people.”