A Career Path into Engineering
Engineering apprentices Tyra Garrett, Sarah Hewitt and George Stewart give their verdict on Thales Group's apprenticeship programme in the United Kingdom.
With over 250 apprentices at ten key sites in the UK, French multinational aerospace, defence, transportation and security contractor Thales prides itself on the range of career opportunities on offer.
Four current apprentices explain why joining the group was the right career choice for them.
Tyra Garrett (Systems Engineering Degree Apprentice)
I joined Thales in 2016 as a Software and System Engineering Apprentice, completing a Level 4 HNC. Once I completed my Level 4 qualification, Thales allowed me to join their new degree apprenticeship scheme to enable me to obtain a bachelor’s degree. Going to university was never something on my radar, as I just wanted to join the working world and get stuck in. I applied for Thales and have been lucky enough to gain university experience, whilst implementing my new knowledge into my daily working life.
Thales has supported me towards becoming a professionally registered engineer with the IET, and I have been awarded the title of ‘EngTech’ after only two years of working for the company. This means I am recognised for my skills and knowledge both within the workplace, and by an external professional body. With Thales, they made sure to celebrate my achievements by putting me forward for the local apprenticeship awards. For all my hard work within the company and support at some great STEM events, I was awarded the Higher and Overall Apprentice of the Year Awards!
I highly recommend an apprenticeship as a way of gaining real-world expertise. The support, opportunities, and apprentice community within Thales is second to none and has allowed me to become more confident in myself, make great friends, and have opportunities I wouldn’t have had otherwise.
Sarah Hewitt (Manufacturing Engineering Apprentice)
I initially looked into apprenticeships due to a recommendation from a friend. I was looking for a balance between working and studying, and after some research; I applied to Thales in early 2016 for a manufacturing apprenticeship.
The apprenticeship with Thales has not only supported me through my Foundation degree in mechatronics, but it has also given me great on the job experience through many different functions. My experience has involved attending college one day a week, with the remaining days being focused on working at Thales and learning from experienced engineers. Year one of the programme enabled me to rotate through five different engineering functions: machine shop, electrical assembly, mechanical assembly, methods and quality. This opportunity allowed me to see the business from a range of perspectives. Moving into second year, I was placed into the methods department, where I focused my learning and development on a specific function.
During this time I had a mentor that guided me through the programme and helped me gain the knowledge I needed to succeed in my career.
As part of the apprentice programme, my fellow apprentices and I were given the opportunity to attend a two week programme split across two trips to the outward bound centre in the Lake District. These two weeks have been one of the highlights in my time at Thales so far, as it was a great way to meet people and develop my confidence.
In addition to my day job, I have been able to attend some great STEM events with Thales. I was part of a team that hosted the Thales stand at two air shows in Northern Ireland. I am also currently working on another STEM programme called Primary Engineers, which looks at sharing knowledge within Thales with primary school teachers so that they can bring engineering into the classroom.
I would encourage anyone to consider an apprenticeship with Thales and am glad that I chose this route into engineering rather than more traditional routes.
George Stewart (Manufacturing Engineering Apprentice)
I joined Thales as a Manufacturing Engineering Apprentice in September 2018. I was previously employed in the construction industry and at the age of forty two decided that it was time for a change. To be honest, I didn’t realise that I could be an apprentice at my age, so when a friend told me that it was indeed possible, and that Thales were looking for apprentices, I was delighted and jumped at the chance.
I must say that I have really enjoyed my time at Thales so far. As this has been a career change for me, everything is new. I have experienced so many exciting new things and met so many new people. For the first part of my apprenticeship I was in the machine shop, working with milling machines. I found this to be very interesting as I love to be hands on with the parts that are produced and I also enjoy the more technical aspect of the machines themselves. I have also really enjoyed the day release to tech, where I have been working on lathes and manual milling machines. This is also a new experience for me which I have found very rewarding because I can now produce a finished product on both machines to a high standard, something I could not have done just a few short months ago. Also, I took part in an inter-campus milling competition and won, which goes to show that you never know what may happen as part of your apprenticeship.
Thales have been very supportive through my apprenticeship so far. The people that I have been placed with on the factory floor have been brilliant and I feel supported. My colleagues are enthusiastic to pass on their experience and wisdom, which is particularly helpful when you are new.
I would recommend a career in Thales to anyone who wants to work in this industry. I my opinion Thales is a forward thinking and ambitious company. Not only that, I believe that Thales is really keen to ensure that its employees are of the same mind set and they will help you to achieve a rewarding career with a bright future.
I believe that joining Thales as an apprentice has been the best career move of my life and I look forward to what the future has to hold.
Additional information about apprenticeships offered by Thales Group in the UK is available at www.thalesgroup.com/en/europe-united-kingdom-career/apprenticeships.