‘My Apprenticeship Has Offered Me Opportunities That I Wouldn’t Have Otherwise Had’


MBDA Apprentice Samantha Ball took to the stage during October’s Conservative Party conference to discuss her experience of a being a logistics apprentice at the defence company and to promote apprenticeships as a viable alternative to full-time education.

Samantha is currently in her final year of a four year MBDA apprenticeship and has worked across various departments of the company on rotating placements.

She said: “My apprenticeship has offered me many opportunities that I wouldn’t otherwise have had. Being an apprentice and earning means I can have a good social life, run a car and save for a house deposit all at the age of 21.

“I am so appreciative of the opportunities and lifestyle that earning and learning has given me. My experience highlights the naivety around apprenticeships. It is so important that young people are made aware of all of the different options”.

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The 5% Club Case Study: Rebecca Thomas

In the last case study of 2013 from The 5% Club, meet Rebecca Thomas, a maritime graduate from QinetiQ.

Rebecca Thomas QinetiQ

Name: Rebecca Thomas

Position: Maritime Graduate

Studied: BEng Mechanical Engineering, Southampton University

I am currently part of the new Maritime Graduate Scheme at QinetiQ. The scheme lasts for approximately 18 months and will consist of 6, 3 month long modules. Each module will take place in a different area of the maritime division and allow me to gain a real appreciation for the variety of tasks undertaken in the business.

I have had the opportunity to work on a wide range of projects and have helped carry out model tests in the QinetiQ Ocean Basin in Haslar. The work has been really varied and enjoyable and I feel like I have learnt a lot in the short time I have been here. In January I will move onto a placement at Winfrith, Dorset. I’m looking forward to getting out onto the ranges and seeing how it all works!

In terms of career aspirations my main focus at the moment is professional development and I aim to achieve chartered status within the next 5 years. In the longer term I would like to become proficient at project management and hopefully become responsible for some of the exciting, big projects that QinetiQ works on.


The 5% Club Case Study: Dan Rigby

This week’s case study focuses on Dan Rigby of EADS. Having joined as a graduate in 2011, Dan is now a project leader on the Airbus A320 program. Read on to learn more of Dan’s time as a graduate at one of The 5% Club’s founding members.

Dan Rigby EadsI joined the Airbus graduate scheme in 2011 after completing an engineering apprenticeship with the RAF, during which I worked on the Airbus Hawker program and completed a Business Studies Degree.

During my time as a lean graduate with a passion to improve and transform business processes, I had the privilege to work on various projects including the re-engineering of the A380 skin-to-rib process, the relocation of A350 wing equipping business and operational management of A320 during a production rate increase.

Over the course of the scheme I have witnessed the first flight of the A350, I have seen the introduction of Sharklet wing-tip and now the A320 NEO (New Engine Option).  I also had the opportunity for a meeting and guided tour at Number 10 Downing Street during a placement in EADS.

Today, with my graduate scheme behind me, I am a project leader and Executive Assistant to the head of the A320 program. I am responsible for delivering a fully integrated enablement solution ensuring that as a team we meet our cost, quality and delivery objectives through optimising processes and reducing all forms of waste.


Seen & Heard: This Week in The 5% Club

Yesterday’s Autumn Statement is the primary talking point of the week, with the announcement by Chancellor George Osborne that apprenticeships are to be given a £40m boost with the aim of producing a further 20,000 higher apprentices over the next two years.

Ben Griffiths referenced The 5% Club in yesterday’s autumn statement round-up in the Daily Mail:

The 5% Club Autumn Statement

“The move is backed by The 5% Club… the group wants 5pc of the workforce in apprenticeships by 2015.”

Away from the Autumn Statement and moving on to more success stories from our members, QinetiQ’s Lauren Hill was named Most Inspirational Apprentice at the Stemnet Awards 2013 last week.

Lauren, an apprentice at the QinetiQ Apprentice Training School at MOD Boscombe Down, was rewarded for ‘her commitment, enthusiasm, dedication and natural ability to communicate her excitement about working as an apprentice’.

“Winning the STEMNET Award for Most Inspirational Apprentice was fantastic, and a great surprise!”

As part of her win, Lauren has received a trip to CERN in Geneva – home of the Large Hadron Collider – provided by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC).

To cap off another eventful week at The 5% Club, we are delighted to welcome the latest company to sign the Club charter- Seaway Powell Marine, a leading figure from within the marine industry.

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The 5% Club Case Study: Tom Wheatley

In the latest in the series of The 5% Club case studies, we take a look at Tom Wheatley, a third year QinetiQ  aeronautical apprentice at MOD Boscombe Down. Find out more about Tom’s daily role, plus his thoughts on The 5% Club.

Tom Wheatley The 5% ClubBefore I embarked on my apprenticeship at QinetiQ, I did A-Levels with the aim of being a landscape designer.  I decided to take time out of education and worked for a year but realised gardening wasn’t for me.

After looking at various options, what I knew I didn’t want to do was to go to university. I learn practically and, although Uni is right for some careers, apprenticeships are great for practical learners like me. So the path that I decided to go down was to train as an apprentice with a view to entering the engineering industry, developing valuable skills whilst learning ‘on the job’. Despite strong competition, I was fortunate enough to enrol at the QinetiQ Apprentice Training School at MOD Boscombe Down, and I can safely say that I haven’t looked back since.

My dad was a one-time apprentice and his experiences helped me to understand what an apprenticeship entailed and the opportunities that it could hand me.

What I really like about the QinetiQ apprenticeship scheme is the sheer versatility of the programme. Upon enrolling, my initial ambition was to train to become an aircraft engineer. However, the breadth of learning here and the proximity you have to different areas of the company has meant that my career path has changed.

At QinetiQ, you can really carve out your own career without being pigeonholed, whilst still developing a wide set of skills that are transferrable. The company allows you to target your own goals, and they provide you with all the support and rewards you need.

Another aspect of the apprenticeship that I have really benefited from is the opportunity to work within the company itself, amongst experienced QinetiQ staff. Working alongside my future colleagues has enabled me to earn their respect and it represents a great practical experience too.

Throughout my apprenticeship at QinetiQ, I have worked in a calm and unpressurised environment that has allowed me to refine and develop various skills, ready for real-world situations. There is a newly refurbished aircraft hangar at MOD Boscombe Down which now forms part of the QinetiQ Apprentice Training School, and will be a hugely important aspect of our practical education.

The hangar now gives students much more space and provides us with the right equipment to develop skills, including de-commissioned aircraft that will be used for practical lessons.

There are two rotary-aircraft within the hangar: a Lynx and a Gazelle helicopter, as well as a fixed-wing Bulldog aircraft, aircraft engines and components. My fellow apprentices and myself are going to gain vast experience working on these  and by learning ‘live’ in this environment, we are getting a head start on others who enter the industry as undergraduates.

Tom’s thoughts on The 5% Club:

The 5% Club is a very positive and important initiative. Apprenticeships are a rather unknown entity amongst school leavers and that is something that I feel must change.

Young people are often presented with just two choices when leaving school; start working with no training, or go to university. Apprenticeships have until recently been seen as an unattractive ‘other’ route, and aren’t fully understood by school leavers.  From my own experience, apprenticeships are a comparable option to University and a fantastic way to get into the work place. They can increase chances of employment, whilst also being paid at the same time – that is something that a university course cannot compete with.

If the 5% Club can increase awareness of apprenticeships schemes as well as inspire other companies to provide further opportunities for those who wish to get their foot on the careers ladder, then it could have a massive impact on my generation.