Apprenticeship Myth Busters

Wednesday 04th August 2021 12:44 EDT

Asian Voice speaks to Mark Donnelly, Head of Apprenticeships & Skills, BAE Systems on common assumptions about apprenticeships and why these myths aren’t true.

  • Apprenticeships are only for school and college leavers 

Those undertaking apprenticeships vary in age, apprenticeship level, and sector and are not just limited to school and college leavers. They are a transformative opportunity for people of all ages and backgrounds to achieve their full potential.

Apprenticeships provide high-quality, comprehensive training across many industries – with the opportunity to ‘earn while you learn”, providing a significant draw for anyone who wants to develop new skills. At BAE Systems, almost 10% of our current apprentices are aged 25 and over, with the programmes also providing opportunities for people looking to retrain.

  • Apprenticeships are only for people who don’t get into university 

Apprenticeships offer a unique blend of learning which embraces both academic knowledge as well as vocational skills and behavioural development. These programmes provide quality and high skilled training, which can also include higher and degree apprenticeships which offer degrees as part of the apprenticeship. They provide a pathway to skills at all levels. 

  • Apprenticeships don’t lead to good qualifications 

The idea that apprenticeships fail to provide robust learning and nationally recognised qualifications is false. At BAE Systems apprentices work towards accredited qualifications throughout their apprenticeship. One third of our apprentices are on higher and degree apprenticeships and will achieve degree level qualifications at no cost to them. On top of their qualification, apprentices also benefit from on-the-job learning through work placements, allowing them to accrue the relevant industry know-how, putting the ‘theory into practice’. 

  • Apprenticeships are only available to those doing manual jobs

Apprenticeships are a great way to develop a wide range of skills, many offer a chance to develop practical abilities but they are certainly not limited to those looking for manual work. There are hundreds of different types of apprenticeships. 

Whilst BAE Systems offers Engineering and Manufacturing apprenticeships we have a total of 50 different apprenticeship programmes including Business, Project Management, Finance and Data Analysis.

  • Apprentices don’t get given any real work to do

This couldn’t be further from the truth – a good apprenticeship is not only a learning experience, but a high-quality, full-time job opportunity based around real work placements and fee earning work. Apprentices bring much to their business, contributing significant value across their apprenticeship, providing innovative ideas and a more diverse workforce. 

We need as employers to give them real work experience to enable them to be fully competent employees. On completion of their apprenticeship, our apprentices are suitably qualified both for their first role and for their careers. 

  •  Businesses aren’t looking to hire apprentices 

Whilst we must acknowledge the impact the pandemic has had across every industry; we and many other businesses have continued to recruit apprentices. We recently announced we are going to recruit more than 850 apprentices and 400 graduates in 2021, the highest intake in a single year. 

Apprentices play a critical role in supporting businesses and provide a vital contribution to economic growth; 70% of the apprentice roles we recruited in 2020 were in the North of England, helping to support the levelling up agenda. Hiring apprentices is an extremely effective way for organisations to foster and grow new talent, developing a more diverse, highly skilled and motivated workforce. In fact, 78% of employers* said apprenticeships helped them improve overall productivity.


  • Apprenticeships don’t lead to a full-time job or a career

95% of our BAE Systems apprentices complete and of these almost all progress into permanent employment with us. Apprenticeships provide people with the necessary skills to work in highly specialised and technical industries. Through on-the-job learning, training and the opportunity to work alongside industry professionals, apprenticeships offer an entry into a long-term and successful career.

Businesses that take on apprentices invest time into developing talent and enhancing critical skills, and retention of these skills is essential to future proofing and continued growth. In fact, research suggests that the majority (85%**) of apprentices stay in employment after their apprenticeship ends or go on to further learning. 


For more information please visit: Apprenticeships | Careers | BAE Systems | International

‘Have An Open Mind’

Q: Name 

Yaamin Nanlawala 

Q: What is the name of your apprenticeship scheme?

Aerospace Engineering Degree Apprenticeship

Q: What year of your scheme are you in?

2nd year 

Q: Which site are you/ would you be based at?

Warton/ Samlesbury

Q: Are you currently onsite or working from home?

Working from home

Q: Why did you choose an apprenticeship at BAE Systems?

Following an apprenticeship route into engineering made sense to me as I was looking to seek new openings that could provide me with an ideal platform to build the professional relationships and networks needed to succeed as an engineer. My decision was also driven by the prospect of diversifying my experiences, regularly challenging myself and having my achievements underpinned by a formal qualification. The idea of transferring the theoretical knowledge and skills attained during my studies to my professional work was also very appealing. 

Having the experience of ‘a day in the life of an engineer’ through the Movement to Work programme prior to joining BAE Systems was another instrumental factor behind my decision to pursue an apprenticeship route into engineering. Prior to that experience, I was unsure as to what exact professional path I wanted to take, but with the support and guidance of my Movement to Work mentors, I was able to recognise my strengths and accumulate a range of skills. This allowed me to grow both personally and professionally, better preparing me for the world of work in aerospace. Fast forward two years from the programme and I have just started my fourth placement as an Aerospace Engineering Degree apprentice.   

Q: Can you tell us about the apprenticeship and what it has encompassed so far?

 To date, the scheme has exceeded all of my expectations – my experiences within the business have given me exposure to a wide array of situations that academic learning alone would not have been able to provide. What I have found most important about the apprenticeship programme is the way in which my placements have given me a broad overview across the engineering lifecycle, whilst being able to demonstrate the key fundamentals required to make a project successful.

The Aerospace Engineering Degree Apprenticeship provides two placements annually, where endless opportunities are presented to develop key transferable skills which are invaluable to becoming a qualified Aerospace Engineer. The programme also helps provide a journey towards professional body recognition, to become an Incorporated Engineer with Engineering Council.

Although I am still at such an early stage of my career at BAE Systems, I have had the privilege to attend the inaugural Global Air Chief’s Conference; it was a fantastic opportunity to engage in panel discussions with industry leaders across the air and space industry on the strategic challenges we face, and how we can address these by shaping our capabilities and skills for the future. Earlier this year, I was also invited to support a visit by Prime Minister Boris Johnson to the Air sector’s Warton Site, where he was shown some of the leading-edge digital technologies of the future. 

Q: Has there been anything surprising or unique about the role you’re doing or have done during your apprenticeship?

Despite working remotely for the majority of my time at BAE Systems, I have been surprised by the level of responsibility and trust given to me, all of which has allowed me to bring new ideas to the projects I have been given the opportunity to work on. This has invariably allowed me to step outside my comfort zone to think creatively, whilst being able to explore all avenues of engagement with the latest technologies and developments in the industry.

The memorable experiences and opportunities presented to me to date have all been truly inspiring, and have undoubtedly reaffirmed my conviction in joining BAE Systems. I’m now very excited for the future, as I continue to strive for personal development and career progression within the company over the coming years.

Q: What would be your advice to anyone who might be considering an apprenticeship?

A key note of advice for anyone considering an apprenticeship would be to have an open-minded approach and to be receptive to a wide variety of ideas. You need to be bold and prepared to step out of your comfort zone to maximise every opportunity. Providing you have the drive, enthusiasm and willingness to learn, an apprenticeship could be the perfect route for you to find and develop your passion!

Q: A short quote summarising career/ experience to date at BAE Systems? 

My personal experience on the scheme has shown me that the focus BAE Systems places on continuous improvement will provide the perfect environment for any enthusiastic, motivated and engaged individual to feel like they can contribute to the future of the organisation.

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