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National Apprenticeship Week 2016: Meet Thales’s Apprentices

This week, Thales is celebrating National Apprenticeship Week (NAW), and what better way to celebrate than to hear from some of the apprentices themselves. As part of these celebrations, four talented apprentices gave their views on the scheme at Thales, what they wanted to be when they were younger, why they chose to do a scheme at Thales instead of university, and finally who their biggest inspirations are.

National Apprenticeship Week seeks to increase awareness of apprenticeships and traineeships all over the world, as well as celebrate the positive impact they have on businesses, and the economy. By developing a motivated and highly skilled workforce Thales gives young people the opportunity to rise to the top.

​The Apprentices

For this NAW, four of Thales’s very own apprentices from different areas of the business tell us a little bit about themselves, and the benefits of joining an apprenticeship scheme.

Danny-Jay Anderson, Project Engineer, Transportation
As a young boy Danny’s dream was to become a pilot, but without 20/20 vision, it became clear this wasn’t possible. As an alternative he decided he wanted to become an aeronautical engineer so he could fix the planes he so loved.
In an about turn, Danny left school with later ambitions to start a career in banking and finance, but during the financial crisis realised that the industry wasn’t quite right for him: “I reassessed my career aspirations and I decided from then on that I wanted to pursue a career in Engineering”.

Once Danny made the decision to change industry, he realised that entering a new field of work would prove quite challenging. After looking at a range of options from evening classes to training roles, it became apparent that these opportunities weren’t offering the right balance between education and hands-on experience. The apprenticeship scheme at Thales, however, offered him a good equilibrium and a great opportunity to develop his career with a reputable company within the industry.

Danny’s greatest inspiration to date is Nikola Tesla, a man who pursued his chosen field of electrical engineering as a result has had great influence in today’s society.

Lynn Graham, Business Apprentice, Optronics Manufacturing
When asked what she wanted to be when she was younger, Lynn said: “I think it was something different every week to be honest! I wanted to be a Vet, or a Police Officer, and I even applied to Strathclyde Force before being accepted to Thales.”

Lynn left school in 2010 and at the time wasn’t sure of what it was she wanted to study: “I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life so I ended up randomly selecting a course at college. It was something completely unrelated to what I’m doing now!”

While looking for work, a family friend mentioned that Thales were hiring apprentices and Lynn decided to put in an application. She was called in for an interview and much to her surprise, didn’t want to leave once she got there: “As the Glasgow site isn’t your stereotypical office environment, I knew straight away that was where I wanted to work, and I’ll have been here three years in October”.

Lynn is a strong believer in starting at grass roots in a company and working your way up: “It’s been such a good way for me to build experience and confidence before going in to a permanent job”. She says of Thales “they are really big on developing young people, and I feel that the team in Glasgow have made a huge effort to get me involved in things since I’ve started, which I think has a lot to do with the fact I’m an apprentice. Plus, people in the manufacturing teams especially, take huge pride in their work and are more than happy to get you round and tell you about what they do and the products they make. As part of the apprenticeship scheme I’ve been given the opportunity to move round different departments which is hugely beneficial for my learning”.
One of the benefits of the apprentice scheme is earning while you learn. Lynn is also hoping to get on to a Bachelor of Arts in Business which she can complete as a night class over the next three years. She says “so although I didn’t go straight into University, I will (hopefully!) be able to obtain a degree whilst gaining experience at the same time. It’s an ideal situation for me really”.

According to Lynn the people she works with are her inspiration: “There are a lot of really successful people in Thales’s Glasgow office who started out as apprentices. I have so much respect for people who have started from the bottom and managed to climb their way up to Directorships in some cases – it gives me a lot of confidence that this is the right route for me.”

Aron Jacob, Manufacturing Engineering Apprentice, Central Operations
Aron has a background in music, and had the childhood dream of becoming a musician or a firefighter. He attended music performance college after school, but after an injury to his back, it was difficult for him to stand and he was forced to consider a different career path. “I began to read books by Stephen Hawking and books by Stephen Law about aerodynamics, and I had heard stories of my great grandfathers’ efforts during the war. I became interested in the design of the collapsible propeller that enabled planes to finally break the sound barrier without the propeller being destroyed by the sonic boom.”

From this, Aron began looking into companies that worked in the Aerospace industry, and learned about Thales. Aron says: “I had a family friend who worked here and I gave him a call for some more information as I had seen a position advertised on, I then applied for the position and from there the rest is history.”

University wasn’t an option for Aron, so when he stumbled upon, the Production Engineering position at Thales was the perfect opportunity for him to work and learn at the same time. Aron would be working in an industry he was passionate about and where he had a family history in: “Thales are willing to pay for my education as far as I am willing to take it. I’ve been working here nearly three years now, and not a day goes by where I’m not grateful for this opportunity.”
Aron’s biggest inspiration has been the people he meets in life, and the most important thing, he says is to keep a “positive attitude”.

Angelina Wilson, Bids & Project Management Office Apprentice, Security
Angelina has always been a driven individual and tries to prioritise building a good career first; the industry will come later.

Before joining Thales, Angelina was a student at Peter Symonds College where her aspirations were to fulfil a role within business. Once college was over, the main ambition was to start working as soon as possible. Angelina says: “I wanted to become more self-reliant and the idea of having a profession appealed to me very much, so thought that an apprenticeship would be the best way to achieve my goal.”

“I chose to participate in an apprenticeship scheme rather than University, as the aspect of working whilst learning appeals to me greatly, also it came to my understanding that by being able to gain a qualification whilst working meant that I would get great exposure within an established business such as Thales”.

Since joining the scheme, Angelina has found her decision the right one as the apprenticeship scheme offers a lot of opportunities to its emerging talents, as well as a lot of support from line managers and other colleagues in the business who have taught her a wide range of skills.

When asked who her inspiration is she says “I don’t have a particular individual who is an inspiration but instead a concept; I want to grow and strive to be successful in a company which hopefully can be equally rewarding to me”.

More information

For more information about the activities that Thales’s apprentices are involved in, follow us on Snapchat to get an insight into a work life through our apprentices eyes, and the chance to challenge yourself with our brain teasers. Find us @ThalesCareers.