Meet Our Apprentices
We spoke to some of our apprentices to see what working at L-3 TRL is like for them, they share their stories below.
Technical Apprenticeship in Manufacturing Engineering
Aaron Hothersall is in his tenth year of working for L-3 TRL, having first joined in August 2006 on a four-year engineering apprenticeship. We talked to Aaron about why the apprenticeship was the perfect start to his engineering career, and why he’s glad he chose TRL.
“I started the apprenticeship scheme at 16 after taking my GCSEs at Tewkesbury School. I spent my first year at college, and the remaining three years applying my new skills and gaining experience in manufacturing engineering.
“While I was getting paid to learn new skills, gain experience and build relationships with work colleagues, many school friends had gone off to university and ended up with huge amounts of debt and no job to show for it. For me, apprenticeships are a no brainer.
Taking steps towards a fulfilling career
“I’ve progressed through three different roles during my time at TRL. After starting as an apprentice, I was promoted to Junior Manufacturing Engineer. Then, three years ago I was chosen for a job as Business Improvement Engineer.
“My new role has made me step outside my comfort zone, and changed my outlook. The training and experience I’ve gained on the job have really helped me to develop in my career. I even had the chance to present to a group of 14 managers in Sarasota, Florida – something I never thought I’d have the confidence to do.
“When I look back at how far I’ve come – from the first year of my apprenticeship to where I am now – it’s incredible. As well as my day-to-day engineering role, I now create training materials and run training and development sessions for employees, and even gave a talk to a local school about why the apprenticeship scheme is a great alternative to university. For me, it was the right choice and I’ve never looked back.
Higher Apprenticeship in Business Innovation and Growth
Eloise Drake is in her second year of a new two-year business apprenticeship with L-3 TRL. Her course is run in partnership with the Peter Jones Enterprise Academy (yes, he of Dragons’ Den fame) and differs from the engineering schemes TRL offers, in that she spends the duration of the two-year course gaining business experience within the company while attending college for just two days a month.
Eloise explains why she chose to apply for the scheme: “I’ve always been more hands on than theoretical. For me, an apprenticeship was the logical next step to furthering my education. I wanted something that could push me, educate me and enable me to grow a career. “As well as being paid to learn, I get to spend three months in a range of different departments – including sales, business development, commercial, project management, and marketing – and see how a successful business really works. I’ve already gained experience in so many different areas.
“At the end of the course I’ll receive a BTEC diploma Level 5, which is equivalent to the first two years at university. If I wanted to, I could wait until I was 21 and go straight into a masters degree – though I have to say I’m enjoying the world of work just now! “TRL is a friendly place to work and you get to know your co-workers quickly. You have to be prepared to throw yourself into the experience to get the best out of it. It’s a privilege to be the first business apprentice the company has ever had. Ultimately I’d like to run my own business, so the scheme fits my career goals brilliantly.”
Blazing a trail
“Eloise is the first person we’ve put through this Level 5 qualification,” says TRL’s Learning and Development Manager, Phil Crookes. “Though this is a two-year scheme we have the option to extend to four years, provided the apprentice has the right skills and personality to fit in to the business.”
And it sounds like Eloise has fitted in just fine. “I’ve already had some great opportunities, including international travel, visits to exhibitions and meeting customers,” she says. “Apprentices get the same benefits as any member of staff – paid holiday, a good salary, sick pay – and it’s an exciting, dynamic place to work. TRL has such a lot to offer apprentices – I’d thoroughly recommend checking them out.”
Technical Apprenticeship in Electronic and Electrical Engineering
Sam Howells finished his apprenticeship in electronic and electrical engineering last August… and now works in TRL’s sales team! “I often describe myself as a failed engineer, but in fact I’m the perfect example of just how flexible the apprenticeship programme can be,” says Sam, who joined the scheme after completing a year of A Levels at school in nearby Gloucester. “In previous years, you’d start an apprenticeship in engineering, stay there throughout the course, and end up being offered a job in that dislipline. I started my apprenticeship in engineering and became the first person ever to finish up in sales!”
Eyes on the prize
Sam always knew an apprenticeship was the right career path for him. “I wasn’t interested in going to uni – I wanted to develop new skills while getting paid to learn.
“In the first year of the apprenticeship you’re at college five days a week – TRL’s engineering apprenticeship is offered in partnership with Gloucester Engineering Training (GET). You spend academic holidays working at TRL, which breaks you in gently to the world of work, then spend years two to four working within the business.”
Apprentices begin an additional HNC qualification during their third year, which Sam did on day release at Worcester College.
But the great thing about the apprenticeship scheme is that you’re guaranteed more than a qualification and a valuable new set of skills at the end of it – you’re also guaranteed a job. TRL’s Learning and Development Manager, Phil Crookes, explains: “Our apprenticeship schemes offer talented students a great springboard into the world of work. They give candidates the chance to hit the ground running, gaining relevant experience and having the chance to become part of a team. Most students end up working in the department in which they spent their placement, but we always do our best to accommodate them elsewhere in the business if, like Sam, they want a new challenge.”
Sam enjoyed the social aspects of his apprenticeship as well as the learning: “You tend to become really close with the other people on your course because you’re all going through the same experience,” he says. “Five of us started in my year – the intake usually varies between three and six. Even though I ended up in a different department to the one I started in, TRL has proved to be a great choice for my career.”