Newcomers Chris Beale, Technical Training Instructor, and Gareth Plant, Learning Facilitator and Assessor, share their thoughts on apprenticeships, life skills, and the joys of instructional teaching.
Chris Beale - Technical Trainer
Chris Beale started his journey with Marshall in 2004 as an avionics apprentice, and after successfully completing his apprenticeship, went into the hangars to work on the C-130 Hercules. In 2013, he became a technician. Then, in 2022, he moved over to Marshall Skills Academy to train the next generation of apprentices.
“I really enjoy teaching people and it feels like a natural progression for me,” Chris says. “Outside of work, I’ve been a Scout leader for many years, and I also train people on sailing narrowboats. I was involved in the Cambridge Launchpad programme to inspire young people to follow STEM careers. So, instructional teaching has always been a passion of mine outside of work.”
Having been an apprentice himself, Chris says he understands what is required from young people on the course. “I think it also gives me a great a greater appreciation of the work involved because I’ve been there and done it,” he says.
Chris says Marshall can offer people a wide range of experiences. For example, he once delivered a Hercules C-130J aircraft to the Bangladesh Air Force, flying from London to Bangladesh over a period of three days. “When we entered Bangladesh air space, we dropped to 1,000ft and flew low across the country’s beautiful green scenery. That was a brilliant experience,” he says. “The apprenticeship opened up so many great opportunities for me and I am proud to now be part of developing others as they begin their exciting careers.”
Gareth Plant – Learning Facilitator and Assessor
Gareth Plant had a varied and textured career before finally joining as Learning Facilitator and Assessor for Marshall Skills Academy.
Gareth left school at 16 and gained an apprenticeship with a company in South London that made the gas meters you see outside (and inside) many houses. “I always loved technical drawing and making things, so wanted to design” he says. “My father said that engineering was a good career to get into, so I decided to do an apprenticeship.”
Around the age of 25, Gareth, left South London and relocated to the beautiful Suffolk countryside where he did various jobs and eventually began his own enterprise, but the novelty of running his own business quickly wore off. One of his customers was recruiting for a trainer with design expertise at a college in Cambridgeshire and Gareth accepted the role.
“I knew nothing about education, but I found myself really enjoying it,” he remembers. “I progressed to do some teaching in the workshops, and from there I became an instructor and then a manager.”
Gareth then started to write training books alongside his regular job. “Like many people, I thought there was good money to be made from books, but I soon came to the realisation that the amount of time you put into writing and producing a book is rarely recouped!” he says.
Later, another opportunity arose to be a Lecturer at West Suffolk College and their university provision, where Gareth remained for the next eight years. “I also completed my HNC, HND, and my degree through the university provision, which I had always wanted to achieve,” he says.
Gareth says he feels an obligation and responsibility to the young apprentices under his watch. “I always feel protective towards them and want to make sure they are looked after and not overwhelmed,” he says. “They have their whole future in front of them, so I want to steer them in the right direction as much as I can and help them avoid the pitfalls.”
Gareth joined Marshall Skills Academy at the end of October 2022 and says he loves the working environment. “I really enjoy training and teaching the Marshall apprentices,” he says. “Also, I find that the people at Marshall are extremely accommodating and welcoming; I don’t feel like a newcomer at all! But what I like best is that my role is challenging, and I really respond to that, because life should always be about constantly improving.”