Friday, 04 September 2015

BAE ‘leads way’ in apprenticeships

A GOVERNMENT minister has praised the BAE Systems apprenticeship programme while outlining future plans.

Skills minister Matthew Hancock said the typical degree route into the highest positions in insurance, accounting and law was “not for everyone” but that should not block a young person from pursuing their chosen career.

Apprenticeships are already available to the same level as the first year of a degree but training schemes up to the equivalent of a masters will be recognised from next year.

Mr Hancock said the quality of apprenticeships was improving, and highlighted manufacturing companies BAE Systems, Rolls-Royce and Marshalls as “leading the way”.

He said: “I want apprenticeships spanning craft, technical and professional jobs that open up work-based routes to the top.

“There are successful higher apprenticeship schemes already in place, at levels four and five, equivalent to the first year of a degree course and foundation degree levels respectively. I now want to see more courses that truly match graduate and postgraduate qualifications.

“From next year, apprenticeships at levels six and seven – bachelors and masters degree level – will be officially recognised for the first time.”

Ted Creighton, head of learning and development at BAE Systems Maritime-Submarines, said since the introduction of the level four apprenticeship in 2008, BAE in Barrow has been using this way of developing its trainees.

Mr Creighton said: “This year we will recruit 19 people onto higher apprenticeship schemes, which will train people for a profession in nuclear engineering, project management, IT, quality and finance. All of these will be supplemented with an appropriate level of further and higher education studies.

“As far as BAE Systems is concerned we have got the model working. The value of this type of arrangement is that people are learning about their profession, and our product, alongside development, assessment and academic study on day release at a college or university.

“It is like doing a part time degree, and many of the trainees will end up with a degree or equivalent qualification. They are learning their profession on the job instead of out of a textbook.”

There are now 32 trainees on higher apprenticeship schemes at Barrow. It is planned to increase to 50 by next year, with a trainee also to be taken on in the quality function.

Mr Creighton said: “Retention is excellent because those joining the level four schemes tend to be local, sixth form leavers who want to stay and work in this area.”

Alex Curtis joined as a nuclear engineering trainee in September from Ulverston Victoria High School.

The 19-year-old said: “I wanted the opportunity to carry on with my education by doing a degree in mechanical engineering, while also gaining valuable experience working for one of the largest defence companies in the world.

While I had the academic entry requirements to go to university, by undertaking the trainee scheme I am able to obtain the same qualification as a graduate without being burdened with significant debt.

“The trainee scheme provides me with ample opportunities to undertake work placements across all nuclear areas of the business, building my knowledge, competencies and technical skills, all of which will contribute to me obtaining a chartership moving forward. I am really enjoying being part of the nuclear standards capability team at present and have already been heavily involved in some quite major projects.”

Karl Durkin, 20, is in the second year of his finance higher apprenticeship, which he joined from Barrow Sixth Form College mainly for the opportunity to earn while he learnt. He said: “Getting a job can be pretty difficult, even with a degree.

“Some BAE Systems trainees came to speak to us at college and it sounded exactly what I wanted to do. My teacher said I would get the same qualification as I would through going to university, while also getting paid. It was a ‘no brainer’.

“I loved my first year because I immediately felt a valued member of the team. Some roles in finance are set aside for trainees, so you are not just shadowing, but a part of the team. It felt strange at first, working five days a week and studying on top of that, but you get used to it. I do three hours during the working day and three hours night school at Furness College each week for the first two years. I will then do day and week release at Preston for my Chartered Institute of Management Accountants qualification.”

Hannah Moore, 19, joined project controls for the Astute programme as a trainee from Barrow Sixth Form College in September. She said: “I believed it was a better alternative, because it’s a whole new learning journey into something I have never been taught in the past.

“I am learning all about the different aspects of submarines and the processes of how you build them. I am still getting the learning experience, and training at college once a week, and will obtain a foundation degree out of it.

Instead of being in debt, I am earning a good wage, advancing my career and gaining job security.”

Marjorie Pickthall, director of Furness Training at Furness College, said: “Furness College is already spear heading Mr Hancock‘s vision for a new family of apprenticeships spanning craft, technical and professional levels.

“It currently offers higher apprenticeships in accounting at level four and has plans to explore further higher apprenticeship routes in the near future.”


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