Jon Perring joined Marshall as an Electrical Avionics Apprentice in August 1990 and stayed with the organisation for 32 years. In that time, Jon worked across a wealth of different departments both in and out of the aircraft hangars at Cambridge. After 27 years, he completed his Level 3 NVQ in teaching and became a Regulatory Instructor committed to developing the next generation of talent.
“I went through the same process as the apprentices and so, as an instructor, I could relate to them and give back to the scheme by teaching the next generation of engineers,” Jon says. “It was surreal when I started teaching as I was training apprentices alongside Robin Lipscombe, the instructor who taught me 27 years ago.”
Recently, Jon accepted a new role at the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) as an Airworthiness Surveyor. This involves carrying out audits of aviation organisations to ensure they are both safe and in compliance with the applicable regulations.
Jon explains: “Where previously I've completed internal audits at Marshall where we looked to maintain approvals, extend approvals or gain new approvals, my new role at CAA will be broader.
“For example, if an organisation wanted to work with a new aircraft such as a 787 Dreamliner, they would first apply to the CAA. The CAA would then conduct an audit to ensure the organisation is equipped to safely carry out the work on that aircraft type with regards to adequate Facilities, Tools, Man-power and Data. It’s similar to the Quality Assurance role I carried out previously at Marshall, but at a higher level.”
Although Jon is excited about the next step in his extraordinary career, he will miss the people that he had the privilege of working with at Marshall over the years.
“I worked with a great team at Marshall Skills Academy as well as people I’ve worked with in the wider business,” Jon says. “We have achieved so many great things over the years together.”
Jon will also miss educating the apprentices.
“The young apprentices are fun to work with,” he says. “I had some nice comments from them when they heard that I was moving on, mostly thanking me for being patient with them, and putting life and energy into teaching. I like to remind them that I was also an apprentice once, so I empathise when they feel a bit nervous or challenged.
“There are so many unknowns at that stage, but I try to remind the apprentices to just do their best; they won’t always get it right, but I hope by teaching them about some of the things I got wrong they might avoid making the same mistakes. That is why the apprenticeship programme is so powerful at Marshall; alumni of the programme are so committed to passing on knowledge because the people before them did the same for us.
“I remember when I left the quality side of the business to become a trainer and a manager wrote in my card saying, ‘you’ve got to have lived it to teach it’. Teaching the regulatory side can lack energy and engagement unless you have real-life stories to bring it to life. It can also appear highly complex and overwhelming. I truly believe in what Albert Einstein said – if you can't explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”
Jon is most looking forward to the breadth of projects he will become involved with at the CAA, everything from historic aircraft to future aviation technologies across many different organisations.
Jon would also like to challenge the perception that regulators and auditors are just there to find faults and criticise. In his opinion, he will be there to ensure operations are safe and running effectively. “I will not be there to tell people what to do, but rather point them in the right direction and make suggestions for improvements,” Jon says. “My role includes providing advice and guidance as well as completing the formal audits. I’m looking forward to being involved with helping organisations develop through the expansion of their approvals.”
Jon is eternally grateful for the training he received at Marshall, especially for the support and skills he gained in the apprentice workshop with Keirron Mascall and Robin Lipscombe. “What I learned in my apprenticeship extends far beyond what I’ve done on the aircraft, it also helped me in many aspects of my life,” he says. “It is more than just an apprenticeship; it was the foundation for everything I have done since. I started on the shop floor; I was an Electrical/ Avionic mechanic, then certifying technician, then quality engineer, then senior engineer, and eventually ended up being the Quality and Compliance manager for the Marshall Skills Academy. I also had the opportunity to work in different roles at Marshall and improve my skillset.
“My advice to other apprentices is to be flexible and get stuck into opportunities when they are presented because you never know where it will take you. Ensure you comply with the regulations and maintenance data, but don’t be afraid to suggest positive change and ideas to ensure continuous improvement.
We would like to thank Jon for everything that he achieved in his time with Marshall and wish him every success in his new role at the CAA.