Paul Oakley has rejoined Marshall as a Learning Facilitator and Assessor, applying his passion and experience as an apprentice and engineer to help bridge the global engineering and technical skills gap.
Paul is no stranger to Marshall, having originally joined the business back in the late 1990s as an aircraft engineer doing structural work and modification. Paul’s father also worked in Marshall’s hangars as part of the company’s work on the legendary Concorde nosecone during the 1960s.
Paul’s journey in aviation began in 1986, when he joined Stansted-based ATEL (Aviation Traders Engineering Ltd) at 16 years old. As an aircraft apprentice, he worked on Boeing 707, 737, 747 and 757 aircraft. He spent four years training for detail fitting, sheet metal work, engineering hand skills and engineering drawing, eventually receiving the City and Guilds qualification in 1991.
After many years contracting as an aircraft engineer, Paul arrived at Monarch Aircraft Engineering Limited (MAEL) in 2000, where he worked on the A320 family, A300, A330, B757, B767 and a range of engine types, progressing on to be lead engineer.
Working in hangar-based leadership roles provided Paul with opportunities to mentor many apprentices and adult trainees. Following this newfound passion, Paul became a workshop instructor, delivering basic hand skills training, structural repair courses and EASA A licence theory modules to apprentices and engineers at the company’s facilities. He gained assessor and IQA qualifications and progressed to the role of Senior Tutor.
In parallel, volunteer work with an aircraft engineering STEM programme as an ambassador has been part of Paul’s journey to encourage and teach young people who would not normally be able to enter the world of aviation. Paul feels this has been very affective in bringing a lot of new talent to the industry, and he is still keen to help more people achieve their dreams.
On his return to Marshall, Paul says, “Revisiting the hangars has brought back a lot of memories from my time here, especially seeing ex-apprentices and ex-adult trainees that I trained!” For Paul, the variation of experience and ages at Marshall has made his return a refreshing new beginning.
As the need for technical skills grows, Marshall Skills Academy continues to flourish, with the September 2023 representing the largest ever cohort. Additionally, Marshall Skills Academy is now delivering training for a record number of aerospace organisations.
Given the looming skills gap in the UK and Europe, Paul understands that “we need to keep the practical hands-on skills, because aspiring engineers won’t learn them at university, so apprenticeships are the way to go.”