National Apprenticeship Week and AWE

National Apprenticeship week is upon us and we’ve had a busy week celebrating the power of apprenticeships and the positive impact they have on individuals, businesses and the economy.

The event is part of the eighth annual National Apprenticeship Week, which is co-ordinated by the National Apprenticeship Service and designed to celebrate apprenticeships and the positive impact they have on individuals, businesses and the economy.

photo 3We kicked off the week on CNBC’s Closing Bell show on Monday with 5% club member Charlie Mullins from Pimlico Plumbers speaking about the importance of apprenticeships. We will also be making a very exciting announcement tomorrow so stay tuned.

Our members have also been busy celebrating National Apprenticeship Week. As a company with a long tradition of running a successful apprenticeship scheme, AWE (Atomic Weapons Establishment) are very pleased to share their attitudes towards and experiences of apprenticeships, one of the most integral parts of the organisation.

AWE has had been running one of the country’s most successful apprenticeship schemes
for over 60 years. Currently, 11% of its workforce is made up of former apprentices, many of whom have enjoyed long and rewarding careers at the company.Picture 4- Skills Academy Circa 1950

Rob Cottrell, AWE’s Skills Academy Manager, said: “Apprenticeships allow AWE to grow its own talent pool by developing a motivated, skilled and qualified workforce and many of our former apprentices have worked their way up through the company to senior leadership positions.”

Geoff Druce, Higher Activity Waste Programme Manager, joined AWE as an apprentice in August 1979. He said: “This is a great place to work. I’ve had brilliant career opportunities which have been varied and wide ranging, including collaborating both nationally and internationally with our nuclear counterparts. I’ve been supported to achieve many goals throughout my 35 plus years with AWE, including appointment into leadership positions and chartership with the Society Radiological Protection. I would continue to recommend AWE to anyone considering an apprenticeship today.”

Kerry Barker, Senior Engineer, joined AWE’s apprenticeship programme in 1985. She said: “I have really enjoyed my career with AWE and can’t think of another organisation where I would have had such a variety of opportunities. I have always been supported to achieve and to fulfil my potential. I now hold a very responsible leadership position in the company, managing both people and programmes, and I’m delighted with the decision I made to come to AWE all those years ago.”

Dani Smithers (16), joined AWE in August 2014. She said: “I chose the apprenticeship route at AWE as I liked the idea of getting hands-on industry training and gaining qualifications at the same time. I’ve been interested in engineering since school Picture 3 - Precision Machinist Apprentice_Daniel Hornblow_2015and knew that AWE was really supportive of women entering the industry. The best thing about my apprenticeship is learning new skills in a practical environment. You are constantly challenged, and have to take responsibility for your own work. I’m loving my apprenticeship – it is much better than I ever expected and I’m so glad I chose this route. The responsibility I am given and the sense of pride I get from working here is great.”

Matt Grimston (17),also joined AWE in August 2014. He said: “I’ve always been interested in electronics and the AWE apprenticeship scheme really appealed to me.

I love the variety of the role and learning lots of new skills. I think the best thing about being an apprentice at AWE is the hands-on work, the challenge of learning so many new things and making new friends. They really look after you at AWE – it feels like they are setting you up for a great career. They are very focused on supporting you to be the best you can – it’s a very positive environment to work in. I would definitely recommend the apprenticeship route. You get real-life hands-on work experience, formal qualifications and you are paid at the same time. It really has been the best decision I could have made.”

AWE is an active supporter of female participation in STEM careers (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) and last year was delighted to welcome its largest intake of female apprentices ever with the total number increasing from 5% to 15% in 2014.

Samantha McRae, a fourth year Mechanical Apprentice was invited to attend a reception hosted by Nick Clegg, Deputy Prime Minister, during National Apprenticeship Week 2014 in appreciation of the fantastic contribution apprentices are making to our society and has more recently been recognised at the 2014 WISE Awards. Samantha said: “I decided to apply for the AWE apprenticeship scheme because I wanted something that was hands-on. I wanted a job with a great career path and knew people that worked at AWE and said it was great. It ticked all the boxes for me. Nearly four years on, I couldn’t be happier.”

Rob Cottrell continued “In 2015, AWE has never been more committed to providing opportunities for young people and supporting them to achieve their potential. We recognise the need to develop a skilled and diverse workforce to deliver our demanding technical programme and meet our future business needs. In early 2014, AWE were proud to be early adopters of the 5% Club and we look forward to continuing to inspire the great minds of the future with 45 new apprentices who will join our business later this year.”

New apprentices with Dr Jupp

To find out more about AWE and the opportunities they offer, please visit their website:

To find out more information about The 5% Club and how to become a member, please visit or get in touch by Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn as well!


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