When Hannah finished her GCSEs, she applied to do maths, physics and French A levels – she wanted to follow a career in engineering and thought that those subjects would be a good starting point. Around that time, her mother saw that Marshall was holding an open day for its engineering apprenticeship programme and encouraged Hannah to attend to ensure that she made the most informed decision about her future. Hannah was blown away by her visit; she loved the idea of hands-on learning that did not involve spending every day in a classroom and getting paid to do it was a bonus.
Hannah applied to the programme without expecting to get in as it is highly competitive and, at 16 years old, she had no prior experience working with tools, so she was delighted (albeit a little surprised) to receive an offer from Marshall.
Hannah’s learned to maintain and repair electrical systems on aircraft through her apprenticeship, which is not something she thought about doing when she was at school. Hannah always knew she wanted to do something in engineering as that was her favourite subject, but it never occurred to her that she could have a career in aviation. Hannah chose to focus on becoming an electrician as it was a technical role that required attention to detail, which is one of her key strengths and something that she enjoyed.
Spending a year in the workshop with learning facilitators Robin Lipscombe, Keirron Mascall and Dave Chapman, taught Hannah hand skills, which included working with metals and tools. Hannah remembers that Dave used to sing all the time; whether he was working or just pottering around the workshop, Dave was always singing, which the apprentices loved. Hannah said that all three learning facilitators were amazing; Keirron was always so helpful and Robin was very intellectual, so together they were fantastic to learn from.
Hannah remains close friends with the people in her apprenticeship group and has even been on holiday with a few of them. She said:
“It is easier to bond with people when you are in the same boat as them and in a smaller cohort than you would be in if you were in college.”
Part of the apprenticeship involved completing rotations around different departments in the business, which Hannah enjoyed, especially the time she spent in air traffic control – this might be a career path she explores in the future. One of the great aspects of the apprenticeship programme is that the skills Hannah has learned are highly transferable, which allows our apprentices to work across different industries and in different roles should they wish to explore other options.
We asked Hannah what advice she would give to someone thinking about applying for an apprenticeship and she said:
“When I was at school, university was pushed hard to the students. We were led to believe that we wouldn’t get a job if we didn’t go to university and I felt that way until the end of year 11. Apprenticeships were never really talked about, but I would say that apprenticeships are a viable option. If university and academia are not for you then that’s okay, apprenticeships allow you to gain experience from very skilled and experienced people, you earn a salary, you don’t leave with any debt and it’s just a great environment to be in.”
Most of the people Hannah works with on the shop floor have been through an apprenticeship programme and so they can empathise with what the apprentices are going through. Therefore, they tend to be more understanding when it comes to giving the apprentices time and support to complete their NVQ work, which Hannah found extremely helpful.
Hannah was happy to pass all her exams, especially air legislation, which is a complex subject. She said that once she had completed that, she was able to start working on the shop floor, which was a proud moment for her. More recently, Hannah completed her End Point Assessment interview with an assessor from Brize Norton and Head of Aviation Excellence at Marshall Skills Academy, Matt Siggens, who also started his career at Marshall as an apprentice many years ago.
With her apprenticeship completed, Hannah applied for a permanent position as an electrical fitter with Marshall and she was delighted to receive a formal job offer. She is looking forward to focusing on doing a good job for now and not worrying about exams or NVQ work for a while.