We recently spoke to the Emerging Talent team at British Airways to find out more about the apprenticeships they offer for aspiring engineers; including how to apply, what stages are involved, and what they look for from their apprentices.
Could you tell us a little bit about the Apprenticeship programmes that you have on offer at British Airways, particularly for Engineers?
We have three main streams of apprenticeships at BA which are Customer, Business and Engineering, so there really is something for everyone depending on your interest and skills. We have two specific Engineering programmes which are Aircraft Maintenance and Aircraft Workshop.
Our Aircraft Maintenance apprentices live offsite for the first year of their schemes whilst completing their learning modules and working on aircraft in a safe environment. In years 2 and 3 they return to Heathrow and rotate around our different engineering departments and areas to further develop their knowledge and experience.
Our Aircraft Workshop scheme is specialised as our Workshop Engineers specialise in niche component repairs and techniques – this is a longer scheme, and the apprentices rotate around the workshop working on engines, thrust reversers, radomes, aerofoils etc.
How long does the programme last, and what qualifications would an apprentice receive upon completing the course?
Aircraft Maintenance is 3 years and our Aircraft Workshop programme is 3.5. All our programmes vary in length from 18 months to 4 years. The qualifications range from level 2 right up to level 6 degree apprenticeships – and depend on the scheme!
How often do you take on new cohorts, and how many apprentices do you accept?
We recruit in the Autumn of each year and this year we’re looking for approx. 200 apprentices across all our schemes.
What is the application process like?
Vigorous but designed to find the best, most enthusiastic talent to join British Airways! It consists of an online application and testing, a video interview and then a final hybrid assessment centre. The main thing we look for in candidates is their passion and motivation for both the role and aviation.
We want to know why British Airways, why this programme, what excites them about working for us? We always say we can teach you the skills you’ll need to succeed, but cannot teach your motivation, it has to come from within.
What are some of the biggest benefits of undertaking an apprenticeship at British Airways?
There are so many amazing opportunities for our apprentices who join British Airways including gaining a fantastic qualification and experience - but to highlight a few that our current apprentices say are the best perks include:
- Joining a robust apprenticeship network and community on day one, learning and being coached by former apprentices at BA throughout your career journey
- Getting involved with our corporate sustainability vision and being champions for things like Flying Start, our charity partnership with Comic Relief, volunteering in schools and colleges and for our various Wellbeing and Diversity groups
- Of course – access to Staff Travel! Heavily discounted tickets to any of our destinations on a standby basis for you and a number of friends and family
What career opportunities exist within the company for those who have completed their apprenticeship with you?
Further progression is a big passion of ours and our Global Learning Academy at British Airways has various pathways and development courses that you can pursue, depending on what you want to achieve in your career and where you would like to go! Many of our apprentices go on to complete higher apprenticeship programmes and secure management positions.
What are the company’s main goals for the future in terms of bringing in new talent to the aviation industry?
Fresh talent brings in a whole new perspective to the way we’ve always done things in the aviation sector, which is crucial to staying up to date in such a fast paced industry. We want our apprentices to come into the business with fresh eyes and voices; to challenge and change things for the better as we continue to build back our business from the impact events in the last few years have had on us.
What advice would you give to young and aspiring engineers who may be considering an apprenticeship?
You really need to think about what is right for you and what you enjoy the most as a person. Many of our engineers say they know they were born to be an engineer and that spark of curiosity about how things work and how to fix them, runs all the way through them. If you are passionate about being an engineer, enjoy working with your hands and being in a dynamic operational environment (rather than a lecture hall!), on live aircraft every day – go for it!
From day one as an apprentice, you get stuck straight away into the tasks and it's very hands on with real responsibility. You’ll learn all the necessary training from industry experts, so that you can finish your apprenticeship, become a fully licensed Aircraft Mechanic and all without any student debt, which is definitely a huge bonus.