Emily Martin, technical apprentice at Leonardo
Emily Martin tells us why she chose the apprentice route and what the benefits are.
Why did you choose an apprenticeship?
The appealing thing about apprenticeships is the blended learning. You get to use theoretical knowledge learned at college by applying it to practical hands-on tasks at work which aids learning and helps to pick up the theory more quickly. Work-based learning at Leonardo also provides me with the opportunity to learn from some of the UK’s leading engineers, allowing me to harness their skills and experience to shape my own development.
How did your plans for an apprenticeship affect the choices you made at school?
Whilst at high school I didn’t really have an idea of what I wanted to do when I left but was always interested in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects. I applied for both university and various apprenticeships, but in the end I decided an apprenticeship would suit me best. I could gain qualifications and four years of work experience at a leading engineering company, while getting paid without building up any student debt. I could see that I would be crazy not to choose an apprenticeship over university if I got the offer.
The great thing about Leonardo apprenticeships in Edinburgh is that you rotate within different engineering functions every 3-6 months, allowing you to find out what you are good at and which subject areas you enjoy, something which is very useful for someone who has just left high school.
Where do you work and what is your role?
I work for Leonardo in the UK and am based at the Edinburgh site within the industrial engineering team. I work on new product introduction – taking a product through the whole cycle, from design to qualification, to full rate production. Industrial engineering is often described as the bridge between design and manufacturing and my role involves interfacing between design and manufacturing functions, to ensure product development and production timelines are met.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
The best thing about my role is that I get to work on new product introduction. I get to see the advances in technology first-hand, acting as part of a problem-solving team testing new designs.
What is your next career step?
I’ve secured approval to study physics through The Open University and have established a career development plan, working towards a lead industrial engineer role. This specialised degree will allow me to become an optical expert in both technical and manufacturing aspects.
What advice would you give someone considering an apprenticeship?
Consider apprenticeships as a real alternative to university. I had always thought of apprenticeships as a route to getting a more practical job, being a mechanic or plumber, rather than a way to build knowledge, but I'm so glad I discovered it. Many employers ask for specific skills and relevant work experience. Apprenticeships give you the best opportunity to learn while on the job, increasing real-life experience, learning from talented colleagues and becoming qualified.