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‘An expertly trained workforce is crucial to the success of the region, employers and businesses’: National Apprenticeship Week begins

NATIONAL Apprenticeship Week begins today (Monday February 5) with this year’s theme focused on Skills for Life.

An apprenticeship can set you up for a lifelong path of learning, development and progression. Defence giant Lockheed Martin UK shares inspiring apprenticeship stories and provides advice on how those looking for an apprenticeship opportunity can secure a role with the global defence and security organisation.

The business has operated in the UK for nearly 80 years. It has a number of sites across the country, including at Ampthill, where it employs over 500 people.

Its facility in Bedfordshire is an engineering centre of excellence, with more than 20,000 sq ft of advanced manufacturing space. The company’s innovations and technologically advanced solutions help the UK to overcome its most complex challenges and stay ahead of emerging threats, contributing to the UK’s defence, security and prosperity.

As part of its Corporate Social Responsibility, Lockheed Martin is committed to giving back to the local community through STEM outreach, working with local schools to inspire the next generation workforce to consider STEM related careers and the importance of STEM subjects.

The Ampthill plant partners with nearby Bedford College to deliver the vocational learning and academic qualifications for some of its apprentices.

 “Providing an expertly trained workforce is crucial to the success of the region, government, regional partnerships, local authorities, employers and businesses,” says The Bedford College Group’s executive director of apprenticeships, business development and commercial Debbie Houghton. “Working with employers in the area, including Lockheed Martin, allows us to offer even more opportunities for school leavers seeking T levels, Apprenticeships or higher-level qualifications such as Higher Technical Qualifications, Higher and Degree Apprenticeships.”

Lee Fellows, vice president and managing director of Lockheed Martin UK’s Ampthill business, started his career as an apprentice. As someone who has climbed the career ladder from apprentice to board room, he is a huge advocate and believer in apprentices.

“My apprenticeship cemented my early career – it grounded me and prepared me for future growth, enabling me to not only develop skills in engineering but also in wider business practice,” he says. “I absolutely believe that I would not be vice president and managing director of a business with over 500 people  without an apprenticeship start in my working life.”

An apprenticeship is more than skills development. “From a personal perspective, it helped me figure out what I wanted to do. The variety of roles I was able to undertake during my apprenticeship gave me a breadth of experience which I just would not have experienced otherwise. It also helped me to respect and appreciate the diversity of thought and approach.”

“In my view, at Lockheed Martin we offer one of the best Early Careers Programmes in the industry. We tailor the support that will help develop our young talent, upskill them and provide them with a personalised career.”

Recruitment advice to those considering applying for an Apprenticeship

Plenty of different apprenticeship opportunities are available in a range of industries, roles and levels. The key is finding the right apprenticeship for you.

Firstly, think about what is it that you want to do. Is there an industry or company that you would really want to work in? What sort of ethics and values are you looking to be part of? Do these align to your own values and ethics? What sort of workplace culture do you want to be part of?

The sort of company you work for is really important. It contributes to your personal wellbeing, and your employee experience – it can be the differentiating factor between being happy at work or starting to dread going into your place of work.

Lisa Jiggins is early careers lead at Lockheed Martin UK and is responsible for growing and promoting the company’s Early Careers programme, which includes graduates, placement students and apprentices. She is passionate about supporting the young cohort from both a personal and professional development perspective.

“Lockheed Martin has long fostered a positive, diverse, and inclusive culture,” Lisa says. “We have a top-down approach when it comes to workplace culture and employee well-being. We care about how our people feel when they’re at work. Employees are encouraged to have a voice and help to shape an environment where every single individual feels they can bring their whole selves to work.

“Apprenticeships are really important to our organisation. They help to develop our future workforce and talent across the business and they are a great route to ensuring we continue to build and develop the skills to support our customers’ needs today and in the future.”

Lisa shares some advice on what is good practice when applying for an apprenticeship role with Lockheed Martin and preparations you should consider doing to help you stand out from other applicants.

  • Applying for an apprenticeship is no different to applying for any other job. Remember to take the time and effort to do some research on the company, understand what it is they do and how you could potentially contribute to the organisation’s mission.
  • Apprenticeships are a competitive process. You could be up against hundreds of applications so make sure you spend time completing the application, proofread what you have written, and include a blend of your personality.

It makes all the difference and can make your application stand out against others.

  • If you bag that interview, make sure you prepare well in advance – it really will pay off.

Research the company and the role, think about how you would fit into the role, and what you would bring to the team.

Practise by doing a mock interview. Make sure you dress smart, and turn up on time – being late to an interview does not look good. Make sure you have some questions prepared that you would like to ask your prospective employer – it is an opportunity for you to understand if the company is a good fit for you, as much as the employer deciding on whether you are a good fit for them.

And make sure you get a good night’s sleep.

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