Employers are ‘kick-starting’ their involvement in Foundation Apprenticeships – Woodward

Foundation Apprenticeships are proving to be quite the hit at Ayrshire College, not only with school pupils, but local employers too. This year as a part of our Year 1 Engineering Foundation Apprenticeship programme two local companies, GE Caledonian and Woodward, have been actively mentoring the pupils during their practical classes.

Foundation Apprenticeships are two-year long courses for School pupils going into S5. One of the top benefits of the course is the employer engagement.


As we are coming to the end of Year 1 for our second set of Engineering Foundation Apprentices, we caught up with Kirsty Harvey, Manager, from Woodward to find out why she wanted to be involved with the course.

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Why would Woodward be interested in mentoring the Engineering Foundation Apprenticeship Class?

At Woodward we believe we have a social responsibility to support the younger generation and inspire them to pursue a career in engineering. It gives us an insight into the next generation of engineers and lets us work closely with the college to streamline our ideals.

Does this programme help you recruit directly for your Modern Apprenticeship Programme?

It is a great opportunity for companies to recruit their next apprentices as you get to see how the students work over an extended period of time rather than just an interview.

What was it like as a female Apprentice at Woodward?

There is equal opportunities for male and female students at Woodward. I have had no issues of discrimination through-out my time at Woodward and have had so many great opportunities to promote STEM activities and host visits around our site for pupils.

I wish I had the opportunity of a foundation apprenticeship when I was at school!

I think it is a fantastic opportunity and the fact that universities are recognising it should make it a very appealing choice for senior phase pupils.

 

Employers are ‘kick-starting’ their involvement in Foundation Apprenticeships – GE Caledonian

Foundation Apprenticeships are proving to be quite the hit at Ayrshire College, not only with school pupils, but local employers too. This year as a part of our Year 1 Engineering Foundation Apprenticeship programme two local companies, GE Caledonian and Woodward, have been actively mentoring the pupils during their practical classes.

Foundation Apprenticeships are two-year long courses for School pupils going into S5. One of the top benefits of the course is the employer engagement.


As we are coming to the end of Year 1 for our second set of Engineering Foundation Apprentices, we caught up with Gordon, Apprenticeship Mentor, from GE Caledonian to find out why he wanted to be involved with the course.     

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Gordon (third left) with the Foundation Apprentices

Why would GE Caledonian be interested in mentoring the Engineering Foundation Apprenticeship Class?

For us this is a way to identify potential future candidates, so it is brilliant. We get to work with the pupils in a classroom environment and be a part of discovering new talent. As well as finding talent, we can also play a part in supporting those that maybe aren’t ready to apply for an MA with us yet, but could in the future.

Mentoring the class has also enabled us to support a pupil who applied for an MA with us but didn’t get selected for interview due to his CV. When I found this out, I felt that as a company we could support this pupil. Meaning if he decides to apply to us next year, then great, but it will ensure he is in a good position for wherever he decides to apply.

Does this programme help you recruit directly for your Modern Apprenticeship Programme?

We are using the Foundation Apprenticeship and PEO courses almost like a pipeline feeding into our Modern Apprenticeship programme. The workshop experience and qualifications they get from these courses means we can recruit the pupils straight into a second year apprenticeship.

By being a part of the class as a Mentor, it’s kind of like pre-apprenticeship interviews, we get to know them and they get to know what we would expect.

On my first visit to the class, I spoke with the pupils to learn more about them. Helping with their practical activities actually reminded me of when I was an apprentice, which was a nice throwback to my younger days.

The practical experience the pupils gain from these courses is a great foundation for us to build on in our Modern Apprenticeship programme. Taking the time out of my working day to be here makes absolute sense for the company. We get to know who we are investing in and can be assured of their knowledge and abilities in an environment they are comfortable in and don’t feel they are being tested by us.

Is there a mix of male and female apprentices at GE Caledonian?

This is something we as a company we feel very strongly about. We want to inspire both male and female pupils to come and work with us. I know there is a mind-set that only males come and do apprenticeships, but that is just not the case with us. We have very successful female apprentices on our programmes and we want to continue to encourage all pupils to apply to work with us. This is something we have always done.

How is Fraser (Year 2 Engineering Foundation Apprentice) getting on?

Fraser is just a fantastic pupil, he has exceeded our expectations. He is gearing up to start with us in August as a Modern Apprentice.


Kirsty Taylor, Foundation Apprenticeship Lead at the College commented: “Engagement from employers is paramount to the overall success of these types of programmes. It is not just about hearing about jobs and visiting companies, it is about having the opportunity to converse with employers, find out what they are looking for from young people, and just having the confidence to demonstrate their knowledge and skills for the mentors. Currently, we have had several Year 2 Engineering Foundation Apprentices being offered Modern Apprenticeships upon completion of the course. In one case, a pupil was even offered the MA a year in advance. These are the types of opportunities employer engagement can offer.

Ayrshire Bytes: Discussing Digital with Catriona Cook

We are launching our new Ayrshire College Podcast with a series of interviews that focus on digital skills.

We have brought together an eclectic mix of people to share their experiences and advice on all things digital, for Ayrshire Bytes. Ayrshire Bytes is our annual campaign that aims to enable people, businesses and communities to have the skills to take advantage of the potential of digital technologies.

Our award-winning ‘Ayrshire Bytes: Data Changes Everything’ conference took place in March 2017, and this year we’re moving the digital conversation forward with our opening podcast series ‘Ayrshire Bytes: Discussing Digital’.

The third interview of the four-part series is with Catriona Cook, Digital Marketing Apprentice at Ayrshire College.

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Catriona Cook with Marketing & PR Officer Martin Currie

Catriona was recently named runner-up in the Interconnect Student Award by Equate Scotland for her work in promoting women into STEM.

In this episode Catriona will offer her knowledge on:

  • Which digital skills are vital in her role
  • Why she believes an apprenticeship in digital marketing was right for her
  • What her advice would be to young people interested in digital marketing

And much more.


Meet the Apprentices – Eoin Macdonald & Jack Quinn, Chevron Aircraft Maintenance

Every year for Scottish Apprenticeship Week, we like to showcase Ayrshire apprentices who are at various stages of their learning.

So far this year we have introduced you to Caitlin WhiteJamie DonnellyAnnie HarrisonTj FreeburnCatriona Cook, Darren MontgomeryMark Gibb, Ryan Lynn and Sarah Marsh.

The final apprentices we would like to introduce you to this year are Eoin Macdonald and Jack Quinn, first year apprentices with Chevron Aircraft Maintenance.

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Eoin and Jack both started under similar circumstances. They got their first taste of engineering at Ayrshire College before applying for apprenticeships with Chevron Aircraft Maintenance, the newest industry giant to come to Prestwick.

Jack said “I started at Ayrshire College on a short course – the Performing Engineering Operations (PEO) course with Composites. Once I finished that I started seeing posters around the College advertising opportunities for apprenticeships and I was encouraged to apply for the Chevron apprenticeship.”

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Eoin said “Yeah I was pretty much the same as Jack in that I started on the PEO at the College. We were on separate courses – I did the one-year course whereas Jack did the six-month one. The College sent out emails advising us of apprenticeships that were coming up. I applied for Chevron and luckily enough I managed to get it.

“I’ve always thought an apprenticeship was the right thing to do. I knew I could’ve went to university and just got my education, but here you get your hands-on skills as well as your education.”

Jack added “I’ve always liked this industry. My Grandpa worked at Rolls-Royce and it really interested me. The hands-on aspect of an apprenticeship appealed to me. My brother went to university but I knew I didn’t want to do that. I did know I wanted some sort of education so an apprenticeship was definitely the right route to go down.”

The two Chevron apprentices are on site every Thursday and Friday, following three days on the NC Aeronautical Engineering course at college.

It’s an arrangement that Eoin and Jack enjoy.

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Jack said “I really like the balance. I feel like I’m learning a lot. I didn’t really enjoy school but my apprenticeship is a much better experience because it’s combining education with work.”

Eoin said “It’s a great workforce in here, everyone’s easy to get along with. I’d encourage any pupils to gain some hand skills by getting an apprenticeship. Going to college beforehand – for the PEO course – allowed me to gain a basic understanding of the industry and the hand skills required. It’s brilliant so far – it’s enjoyable plus I’m learning. It’s what I’ve always wanted to do.”

When Eoin and Jack are working with Chevron, they are assisted by a mentor. Teddy Ward, a B1 Engineer at Chevron Aircraft Maintenance, is one of the mentors the pair works with.

Teddy said “I’m a point of contact really so if they’ve got any problems or questions they can come to me.

“Jack and Eoin have shown they’re keen to learn – they’re always asking questions and you can see that they’re interested in their work. They’re getting involved in all of the jobs here.

“I think that’s one of the best things about this place – there’s different aircraft which involve different jobs all of the time. Ranging from fitting panels to big structure work. If there’s anything that’s a bit different to them we run them through it a couple of times and explain what we’re doing to give them a broader understanding of what’s going on.

“It’s great to get some young blood into the company. We always need new people coming into the industry and hopefully they can progress through the company.”

#ScotAppWeek18

Meet the Apprentice – Sarah Marsh, UTC Aerospace Systems

Every year for Scottish Apprenticeship Week, we like to showcase Ayrshire apprentices who are at various stages of their learning.

So far this year we have introduced you to Caitlin WhiteJamie DonnellyAnnie HarrisonTj FreeburnCatriona Cook, Darren MontgomeryMark Gibb, and Ryan Lynn.

This afternoon we welcome Sarah Marsh to the blog.

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Sarah Marsh initially thought university would be the right route for her to go down as she followed her engineering dream.

A lack of practical learning on her course soon persuaded her otherwise, and she decided to leave university after one year.

Not put off by this experience, she quickly explored other options.

Sarah said “I just knew I wanted to do something hands-on. I went to university for a year doing Mechanical Engineering with Aeronautics and I really liked the subject but I felt there was too much studying with no practical work.

“It was my Mum who saw the apprenticeship with UTC in the newspaper and encouraged me to apply. I always associated apprenticeships with trades such as joinery and bricklaying and didn’t really realise you could do engineering apprenticeships.

“A couple of weeks after sending in my application I was invited in to sit a theory test and a practical assessment, where I had to make a metal box. That was the first time I’d done a practical task like that and I thought I’d ruined my chances. But I got invited back for an interview, where we got a tour of the facility, and was offered the position the next day.”

Sarah, 20, is one of only a few female engineering apprentice taken on by UTC Aerospace Systems.

Sarah said “This is my dream position. I’m not bothered that it’s a male-dominated environment, I certainly haven’t experienced any bias because of my gender. I’m proud that I’m one of the first female apprentices they’ve taken on and I think it’s good for a company to get women in to these types of roles. Hopefully young women will now see that it’s something you can do and we’ll see more entering the industry. It’s an industry that has a really bright future so I was excited to become a part of it.”

Right now Sarah studies five days a week at Ayrshire College, splitting her time between the theory side of the apprenticeship, in NC Aeronautical Engineering, and the practical side, the SVQ Performing Engineering Operations (PEO) Level 5.

She said “Of course I do prefer the hands-on work here but the theory side has been very interesting too. I’d like to eventually go back and complete what I started at university, but I’d prefer to do it on my own time, combined with work, and I know that UTC will support me with this through our Employee Scholar Program. This is a scheme that allows any employee of UTC to undertake a degree-level qualification at no cost to the employee.”

#ScotAppWeek18 #ThisAyrshireGirlCan