The 5% Club Case Study: Andrew Sheppard

EADS SheppardThis week’s case study focuses on Andrew Sheppard, an Astrium graduate from EADS and a member of the ENS department.

Joined: 2012

Division: ENS

I started the Graduate Development Program at Astrium in 2012 after graduating with an MSc in Astronautics and Space Systems Engineering from Cranfield University. I work in the ENS department which stands for Earth Observation, Navigation and Science, and means that I deal with the more unique and specialist space missions.

During the program we rotate placements every six months within the company in order to increase our exposure to the activities elsewhere and even across different sites; my second placement was in the mechanical design office in Friedrichshafen, South Germany!

At the end of the scheme I will end up in my home department which is spacecraft systems engineering, this is ensuring that a spacecraft meets the requirements of the customer at every level in a project, from its individual subsystems and parts right up to the full spacecraft itself. I spent my first seven months working as a systems engineer on the European Mars rover, ExoMars. This was a fascinating project to start on as it is an Astrium first, we will be sending a rover to the surface of Mars to search for signs of life, past or present, which is extremely exciting!


Government Announce New Generation of Apprenticeships

The 5% Club David Cameron

Prime Minister David Cameron announced plans yesterday to overhaul vocational schemes in the UK. Speaking at the Mini factory in Oxford, Cameron spoke of his intention to introduce year-long apprenticeships that will be graded on a three-point scale to put them on par with qualifications.

Speaking to 600 apprentices yesterday, Cameron said: “I said earlier this month that I want us to deal with the scourge of youth unemployment by giving young people more chances and choices in life. This goes to the heart of my vision for this country: backing hard working people who want to get on in life and making sure Britain competes and thrives in the global race.

“So I am really excited to be here today. What we’re announcing is going to make a massive difference to thousands of young people’s lives. It involves 2 things.

“One: we’re saying; if you want an apprenticeship, we’re going to make sure you do the best apprenticeship in the world. The reforms we’re announcing today will put employers in the driving seat and ensure that we deliver high quality training that supports you and our economy for years to come. And as the range of companies signed up today shows, these are apprenticeships in different industries and sectors meaning people have a real choice about the career they want and our economy is balanced.

“Two: we’re saying if you need help preparing for an apprenticeship or want to get straight into the world of work, we’ll help you too. We’ve been talking to some of the biggest companies in Britain, massive global brands where young people have a real opportunity to progress up the ladder, and they have said they want to offer 100,000 vocational training schemes for young people.”

Backing the new vocational training scheme are 60 companies, collectively known as Trailblazers. The firms pledging their support include Marks & Spencer, Tesco, National Grid, Barclays, BAE Systems and BT.

In total, 100,00 training places will be offered over the next two years.

David Tomkin, Chief Executive of The 5% Club founding member Atkins, said in response to Cameron’s speech: “There are some technically complex and time critical challenges which will need to be overcome in the years ahead, from population growth to climate change, and in many cases it will be down to the next generation to find and implement the solutions. It is vital that talented young people are given the opportunity to develop the knowledge and skills which will allow them to deliver a better future for us all, and a commitment from businesses to invest in apprenticeship and graduate development programmes will play an important role in achieving this.”

Jonathan Lawson, CEO of Vision Express, said: “The UK is suffering from a dearth of skills, while at the same time experience high levels of youth unemployment. The government announcements on Apprenticeships are welcome, but the fact is business leaders need to come together on this issue in order to tackle the problem head on. 

“The 5% Club has been launched to ask all companies in the UK to raise levels of graduates, apprentices and sponsored students in their organisations. Retail is one of the best career paths for young apprentices and sponsored students. It is vital industry picks up the baton on this issue.”

Tessella Managing Director Alan Gaby welcomed Cameron’s pledge to address the UK training and apprenticeship schemes: “Helping provide opportunities for the next generation is, I feel, a responsibility of business leaders, but can also be a source of immense satisfaction.  It is especially important and relevant in today’s economic environment and amid the really tough challenges facing our country’s young people.”

What do you make of the government’s plans to overhaul the UK’s apprenticeship and training schemes?

The 5% Club Case Study: Makena Ireri

As part of our series examining success stories from the members of The 5% Club, meet Makena Ireri, a Civil Engineer graduate from Atkins.

Makena Ireri

Joined: April 2012

Role: Civil Engineer in the Energy (Nuclear) division

I joined Atkins after graduating from the University of Manchester. I have already been involved in a high profile project for EDF, one of major clients. The project – the Sizewell B Emergency Response Centre (ERC) – responds to a report by the Office for Nuclear Regulation which identified lessons to be learned from the events at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan. I carried out structural design and analysis of various components of the ERC, applying lot of the engineering theory I learned at university.

I was attracted to Atkins by its international reach and the opportunity to work on a range of exciting projects. The graduate training and development route offers mentoring and supplementary courses, and gives individuals the responsibility for their personal development, allowing me to tailor my route to chartership and manage my wider career development goals.

Four New Companies Sign Up To The 5% Club

The 5% Club is delighted to announce the addition of four new members. Each company has pledged to play a part in addressing youth unemployment and skills shortages within the UK by adopting a 5% employment target for graduates, apprentices and sponsored students within their organisation.

The four companies to have signed up are:

· Vision Express– one of the UK’s largest high street opticians, with 4,000 workers across more than 325 stores.

· Pimlico Plumbers– the UK’s largest independent plumbing company.

· Tessella– the International provider of science powered technology and consulting services.

· Dale Power Solutions– a global leader in critical power supplies.


Vision Express has become the first retailer to sign up to the 5% Club.

Jonathan Lawson, Vision Express CEO, said: “We understand how vital it is to get fresh talent through our doors and in today’s competitive environment, getting that first break into the world of work has never been more important.

“We are elated to be the first retailer to pledge our commitment to this initiative.  We look forward to being part of its future and are proud to formalise our commitment to growing and developing even greater numbers of young people within our business.”

Pimlico Plumbers logo

Charlie Mullins, Managing Director and founder of Pimlico Plumbers, said: “This is the single most important issue facing our economy and society in general right now. If we don’t address the chronic skills shortages afflicting us we will in a few short decades become an economic backwater.

“I have made this point to the Prime Minister on numerous occasions, made submissions to a public enquiry, and written and spoken about the issue until I’m blue in the face.

“Slowly people’s mind-sets are beginning to change on the issue of apprenticeships, and there is no better way for businesses to assist this process than to lead by example by joining The 5% Club.”


Alan Gaby, Tessella’s Managing Director, said: “Helping provide opportunities for the next generation is, I feel, a responsibility of business leaders, but can also be a source of immense satisfaction.  It is especially important and relevant in today’s economic environment and amid the really tough challenges facing our country’s young people.

I am proud that Tessella has joined The 5% Club and whole heartedly support its 5% target for graduates, apprentices and sponsored students in their organisations over a 5 year period.

I have had the good fortune to build a career in the UK technology industry over the past 30 years through training and education opportunities that companies offered and so I am convinced that The 5% Club strategy will be effective.

As a company operating in the UK, we are committed to this country’s growth agenda.  Against this backdrop we are aware of the chronic skills shortage and youth unemployment that the UK faces and acknowledge the importance of developing our people as both a business and social imperative.  We aim to play a role in transforming the fortunes of young, talented people in the UK and to ensure that the UK retains its reputation for innovation.”


Dale Power Solutions Chief Executive Tim Wilkins said: “Dale Power Solutions is proof that SME’s can make a significant contribution, work towards and meet the 5% Club Charter. We currently have 6.2% of our workforce in an apprenticeship or sponsored graduate education and by joining The 5% Club we are committed to maintaining a level of at least 5%.

“By signing up to the 5% Club we aim to encourage other organisations to do the same and help make a difference and give the nearly 1 million unemployed under 25’s in the UK a brighter future.”

Each of the four new members have agreed to publicly report progress on the 5% target in the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) section of their Annual Report.

Companies wishing to sign up to The 5% Club or which simply would like more information can visit or email

Seen & Heard: This Week In The 5% Club

Writing in the Sunday Times last weekend, Business Editor Dominic O’Connell described The 5% Club as a “laudable commitment to training, already taken up by QinetiQ, Atkins, Babcock, MBDA and  EADS”.

“The beauty of the target is that it is simple to measure”.

Elsewhere, Leo Quinn joined Jeff Randall on Sky News on Wednesday evening to discuss The 5% Club. Quinn told Randall that he wanted to ensure that UK industry plays its part in tackling youth unemployment by matching the commitment of the government and educating system. His message was simply: “Skills drives innovation, innovation drives growth and growth drives economic prosperity”.

On Thursday, educational charity The Sutton Trust released a report which revealed that the UK lagged far behind its European rivals in terms of job opportunities and apprenticeships for young people. The report found that only 20% of employers in England offer apprenticeships, compared to 51% of German companies. Moreover, there are only 6 apprentices for every 1,000 workers in Britain, whilst Germany boasts 40 and Switzerland 43.

Finally, The 5% Club has received several messages of support on Twitter this week. Both AGR and The Future Talent Group got in touch on Twitter to offer support to the aims of The 5% Club:

Latest Figures Reveal 958,000 Unemployed Youths

The Office of National Statistics (ONS) have released the latest figures on the labour market, revealing that youth unemployment currently stands at 958,000, a figure that has changed little since the start of 2013.

The unemployment rate for 18-24 year olds has risen by 0.1 percentage points to 21.0%, with a total of 2.66 million young people economically inactive (75% of which are in full-time education).

In total, there are 3.6 million 18-24 year olds in employment in the UK, a figure that has decreased by 34,000 since May.

Leo Quinn, QinetiQ Group CEO and a founder of The 5% Club,  said:

“Although these figures show overall unemployment falling, they continue to highlight our challenge with youth unemployment. The UK is globally disadvantaged by its skills shortage, yet we still have over [one million] 16-24 year olds with no career prospects.

“A lot of good work is being done from the education end: now it’s up to us in industry to create the jobs in which our young people can develop their ability and drive Britain’s future prosperity. We set up The 5% Club to galvanise those of us in corporate life to invest in this generation: we need as many companies as possible to sign up and help improve this situation.”

To view the latest ONS labour market data, click here.

The 5% Club Case Study: Catherine Bateson

Today is Ada Lovelace Day, an observance of the world’s first computer programmer and a celebration of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

This international day of recognition is intended to help raise awareness of the achievements of women in STEM. In light of that, meet Catherine Bateson, a current graduate from The 5% Club partner EADS…


Division: EADS Astrium

Location: Stevenage

I joined Astrium in Sept 2012 as a Graduate Production Scheduler after completing an undergraduate masters course in Mathematics at the University of Bath. Here I am part of the AIT Scheduling team, working with the schedules for our various satellites, analysing how work is progressing and managing resources through the various manufacturing departments.

As well as analysing the current status of departments, we plan for future requirements, based on predicted future projects. I find it very interesting collating information about the status of components from colleagues across departments, in addition to working with the schedules themselves. Following the logic of a build sequence can often get quite complex and being able to rearrange a procedure or find a key inconsistency can be challenging but immensely fulfilling.

AIT, and Astrium as a whole, are dynamic and inspiring places to work, especially as a graduate, because of the fast pace of the work and you never what challenges you will face next. It is also very rewarding to know you are able to make a valuable contribution to the team.