Why study an apprenticeship? The biggest draw for many is the fact you earn while you learn, but you also experience what full-time employment is like and receive a qualification at the same time!
But don't just take our word for it. Alex and Conor, who are both apprentices at Airbus Group, share their experiences first hand with us.
When did you start your apprenticeship?
We began in September 2014 and we are now progressing through the second year of our apprenticeship, currently situated at the Airbus Broughton Site.
What are your daily activities?
Alex: My current placement within the business is in A350 Lineside Quality. My daily activities in this department include carrying out technical investigations in order to discover the root cause of a certain issue or non-conformance. The idea is to gather as much information as possible by analysing engineering documentation and conducting physical inspections on the defected areas.
Although this can sometimes be challenging, the rewarding feeling when an issue has been resolved makes it worthwhile. As part of my BEng Degree I am currently managing a work based project in which I am looking at possible redesigns of tooling with an aim to reduce the number of defects per wingset. I am also responsible for analysing inspection data; areas with a high concentration of defects can then be targeted for improvement. The type of tasks you can expect in Quality Lineside is varied, especially due to the unique characteristics/ material properties of the A350 Wing.
Conor: The department I am currently situated in is Non-Destructive Testing (NDT). My daily activities include assisting engineers to analyse the internal properties of the aircraft components when defects are found or created. This is where we would scan the areas of damage with a sensitive probe which is able to detect microscopic cracks, on or below the surface, and reveals them on a diagnostic reader. Advances in composite technology now allow us to carry out this type of work on carbon fibre components such as on the A350XWB, and ultrasonic inspections can now detect various forms of defect such as delamination, impact damage, surface notches, and thermal over-exposure.
What is the best thing about your apprenticeship?
Alex: Working with industry experts in a field that I am passionate about and knowing that I will be constantly challenged throughout my apprenticeship. The engagement activities, such as Outward Bound, was a personal highlight of mine last year as we got to meet and work with apprentices from Germany and France. Being in an office that overlooks the runway is good too!
Conor: It’s great knowing that I am gaining the qualifications I would’ve achieved at university without the worries of debts, whilst also earning a comfortable salary within a well-established business and working alongside world-class engineers. Our recent visit to the Filton site was also an eye-opener as it showed us the scale that Airbus operates on, and gave us an insight into projects currently being developed for future aviation technology!
How has your apprenticeship prepared you for your future career?
Our apprenticeship has given us the qualifications we need to take on the diverse and demanding job roles that are available here at Airbus, and the experience we have gained along the way from industry experts is invaluable!
The practical skills and hands-on experience we have learnt is something that we wouldn’t have been able to gain in university alone and the experience in the field is second to none when compared with sitting in a lecture theatre. We believe that this will allow us to make successful careers for ourselves in Airbus and the aerospace industry.
What would be your advice to anyone thinking about an apprenticeship?
Apply! There aren’t many opportunities where you get paid to study; usually it’s the other way around. In terms of advice, we recommend doing as much engineering related work experience as possible as this will give you an idea to whether or not you enjoy working in a factory environment; not to mention strengthening your application.
It is one thing saying that you are passionate about aerospace engineering, but showing it is a different thing altogether. Try to get involved in any clubs that are STEM related in school, or if you are in college, set one up yourself and manage it for the lower school. Teamwork is a big deal at Airbus; try to get involved in as many team activities as possible, and finally research the Airbus website to see if you possess or could demonstrate the Airbus Key Values.
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