The 5% Club Case Study: Mike Dodd

As part of our National Apprenticeship Week drive, we take a look at QinetiQ apprentice Mike Dodd. Mike is part of the QinetiQ team taking part in the 2014 Brathay Challenge. Supported by the National Apprenticeship Service, the Brathay Challenge aims to find the apprentice team of the year by putting them through a series of challenges aimed at testing team building, leadership, logistical and communications abilities.

To monitor how they get on, follow the team on Twitter: @QATSBAC14

Mike is a second year team building, leadership, logistical and communications abilities. Read more about his day to day role at QinetiW, and his experiences in the Brathay Challenge below.

Mike Dodd The 5% Club Case StudyBefore embarking on an apprenticeship at QinetiQ, I had applied to two different aeronautical courses at university, as well as this apprenticeship. I was struggling to decide which of the courses to study, and after a discussion with a lecturer at the University of Hertfordshire, I decided to pursue the apprenticeship instead. The main thing that attracted me was the hands-on experience I would gain whilst earning my way at the same time.

I was aware of QinetiQ and the Boscombe Down training school before I applied to join their apprenticeship programme. I was accepted onto their mechanical  aeronautical apprenticeship course, and currently I am in my second year.

The first two years of the apprenticeship are spent in the Hangar. A typical day revolves around theory and practical learning. A day lasts from 8am to 4:30pm and the morning is usually spent in the classroom, learning the theory side of mechanical engineering. In the afternoon, we’ll head out to the hangar for practical lessons, where we’ll usually work on decommissioned aircraft. It offers a great environment to learn and develop skills.

The highlight of my time so far as a QinetiQ apprentice has to be watching ground runs of an RAF Tornado jet. A ground run is a series of safety checks performed on an aircraft, including thrusting the engines. I was fortunate enough to experience the incredible sound a Tornado generates first hand, and the experience was awesome and unforgettable. I get a real kick out of working and being around aircraft, so it was an incredibly exciting experience. Although of course, not everyday is like that!

One of the aspects of an apprenticeship that a degree just cannot match is the unparalleled experience that is on offer. Depending on your degree, there are a multitude of reasons to go down the university route, but by pursuing an apprenticeship, I am gaining valuable working hours very early on in my career. In that respect, I am gaining an advantage over a graduate.

I have two and a half years left of my apprenticeship at QinetiQ, and I am already looking forward to continuing my work beyond the training My advice to any school leavers looking to pursue an apprenticeship is to just go for it! There is an impression that apprenticeships aren’t as ‘academic’ as university but I do not believe that at all.

What I would say is that the skills you learn at A-Level are vital, whether you go to university or enrol on an apprenticeship, so work equally as hard regardless of your future plans.

Part of my QinetiQ apprenticeship involves taking part in the Brathay Apprentice Challenge, a nationwide competition supported by the National Apprenticeship Service and organised by the Brathay Trust. The aim is to demonstrate the quality of apprenticeships, whilst there is a competitive edge to do as well for your company as possible.

Last week, I took part in the Apprenticeship Slam, the latest event in the competition. I will be spoke in front of senior secondary school pupils about my training and background, and was up against challengers from the likes of Babcock and JP Morgan. The general outline of my talk was to explain why QinetiQ’s apprenticeship programme is the best in the world. Of course in my view, it is!

“What we want is for people to invest in apprenticeships on a long term basis”

To mark the start of National Apprenticeship Week, Leo Quinn, CEO of one of The 5% Club founding members QinetiQ, joined Evan Davis and Simon Jack on the Today programme on BBC Radio 4 this morning.

As a new report released by the Department for Business revealed that 44% of employers in the UK plan to take on apprentices in the UK, Quinn praised National Apprenticeship Week and the work of The 5% Club, but called for more action to be taken in order to tackle the UK’s skills shortage.

“We look at apprenticeships as apprenticeships for life- what’s happening for the other 51 weeks (of the year). What we want is people to invest in apprenticeships on a long term basis.

“The 5% Club is designed for any corporation to make a public declaration that 5% of their employee base will be made up of apprentices or graduates on formal training schemes”.

Leo Quinn was joined by QinetiQ apprentice Robert, who spoke of the inspiration that led him to pursue an apprenticeship.

“When I was seventeen, my great-uncle left me his toolbox when he passed away, and in that toolbox was a picture along with a letter. The letter explained how he became an apprentice during the Second World War. After reading the letter, it really drove me to becoming an apprentice myself”

When asked why he pursued an apprenticeship over going to university, Robert explained:

“I went into an apprenticeship when youth unemployment was quite high. I decided to go for an apprenticeship because I’d have the hands on skills and ability afterwards to get a job. You need the skills alongside the knowledge”.

Pressed as to whether recruiting apprentices is worth its while for SME’s, Quinn spoke of the true economic value of such a programme:

“Apprentices rejuvenate the employment space. They’re creative, they’re energising, and they value they add far outweighs any cost that they incur”.

To follow the progress of The 5% Club, and the activities of our members during National Apprenticeship Week, follow @5percentclubuk and @LeoQuinn_UK.

National Apprenticeship Week 2014: 3rd-7th March

Next week is National Apprenticeship Week. Organised by the National Apprenticeship Service, the week is designed to celebrate apprenticeships and the impact they have had on individuals, businesses and the UK economy.

National Apprenticeship Week 2014

Now in its seventh year the theme for National Apprenticeship Week is Great Apprentices.

The growing fear of a UK skills shortage has pushed the issue of apprenticeships to the forefront of debate over the past year and The 5% Club has led the charge, urging public and private companies to Invest in a Generation.

Looking ahead to the beginning of National Apprenticeship Week, we want to share with you some of the standout apprentices from our 20 members, including apprentices who have gained national recognition for their efforts over the past year.

Natasha Pitts, Dale Power Solutions Apprentice

Natasha Pitts The 5% Club

Natasha’s efforts since joining Dale Power Solutions in 2010 was recognised at the National Apprenticeship Awards in November, having been handed the Highly Commended Award for ‘exceptional work as a Higher Apprentice’.

Natasha is currently on an electrical and electrical engineering apprenticeship at Dale Power Solutions and has been described as a role model and a star of the future.

Read Natasha’s case study here

Samantha Ball, MBDA Apprentice

In October of last year, MBDA apprentice Samantha Ball  took to the stage at the Conservative party conference to promote apprenticeships as a viable alternative to full-time education.

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

Tom Wheatley, QinetiQ Apprentice

Tom Wheatley The 5% Club

Tom is a third year aeronautical apprentice at QinetiQ’s Boscombe Down training school. He is an avid supporter of apprenticeships and has offered his support to The 5% Club’s aims and achievements.

Read Tom’s case study and thoughts on The 5% Club here

Four New Companies Join The 5% Club

The 5% Club have kicked off 2014 with the signing up of four new companies, including Balfour Beatty and Thales. All of the new members have committed to the Club Charter, ensuring that 5% of their workforce are apprentices, graduates or sponsored students on structured programmes within the next five years.

The four new members to join The 5% Club are:

  • Balfour Beatty– An international infrastructure group, with 20,000 employers in the UK.
  • Thales– One of the UK’s leading engineering and technology companies.
  • The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory– The MOD’s science and technology organisation.
  • Attenda– One of the UK’s largest data centre and Cloud supplier.

The four new additions brings the current number of companies in The 5% Club to 18 and the total number of UK employees to 100,000.

Balfour-Beatty_The-5%-Club

Balfour Beatty Chief Executive, Andrew McNaughton said: “The growth of the construction industry will be vital to helping the UK economic recovery, but at the same time the industry is facing the prospect of a skills shortage. By helping young people to get into work with the proper training and qualifications we can ensure the sustainability of our own business and the wider communities in which we work.”

Thales_The-5%-Club

Victor Chavez, CEO of Thales UK, said: “Organisations that do not invest in the next generation are not only failing to secure their own future, they are also failing in their responsibility to the young people of the UK.  For Thales to remain at the forefront of the UK’s engineering and technology projects, and more broadly for the UK to have the right level of engineering and technical skills to meet future global demand, we must ensure we have excellent training and development programmes in place.

Thales has a strong culture of training and development that stretches back decades and we have developed a comprehensive suite of training experiences for young people – including our excellent graduate development programme, apprentice schemes, internships and other mentoring initiatives that combine learning and working. Our membership of The 5% Club demonstrates Thales Group’s long-term commitment to training and Thales UK’s commitment to the young people of the UK.”

dstl_the-5%-club

Dstl’s Chief Executive Jonathan Lyle said: “As a public sector science and technology organisation, Dstl is delighted to join The 5% club. We are passionate about supporting and employing young people by offering a variety of opportunities including apprenticeships, industrial placements, Year In Industry placements and graduate opportunities – they bring innovation and fresh ideas into our workforce as well as helping us to play our part in addressing the UK’s skills shortages.”

Attenda_The-5%-Club

Leo Quinn, CEO of QinetiQ Group PLC, a founder member of The 5% Club, said: “The breadth of different organisations to have signed up – from construction to law – shows how widely youth unemployment is seen as a national issue – and how much industry wants to raise our skills training in the UK.

“This is a terrific start to 2014 for The 5% Club and we urge other companies to follow Balfour Beatty, Thales, Osborne Clarke, DSTL and Attenda in signing up.”

Companies wishing to sign up to The 5% Club or which simply would like more information can visit www.5percentclub.org.uk or email contactus@5percentclub.org.uk

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.

 

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.

Stay tuned for more partner updates next week. Follow us on Twitter for all the latest from The 5% Club

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.