We recently spoke with Resource Group about the engineering apprenticeships that they offer. Read on to discover more about what the apprenticeship entails, how long it takes, what the application process is like, and their advice for young and aspiring engineers planning their future career paths.
Could you tell us a little bit about the Apprenticeship programme(s) that you have on offer at Resource Group, particularly within Engineering?
We currently offer two aircraft maintenance engineering apprenticeship options, with a third coming in 2023. The main route into aviation maintenance is via the Part 66 Category A (CAT A) Licence pathway within a level 3 Apprenticeship. We usually train well over 100 apprentices a year this way.
We also offer the level 4 Certifying Technician Apprenticeship which provides the route to Part 66 Category B (CAT B) Licence.
In 2023, once the revised standard passes the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education’s review, we will be offering the level 2 aircraft maintenance mechanic apprenticeship. This will offer alternate entry points into a full career path within aviation maintenance.
All programmes are designed to ensure competence and confidence in aircraft maintenance environments, with foundation phases teaching sufficient knowledge, skills and behaviours required. This is taught and reinforced in a UK CAA and EASA regulated Part 147 setting, emulating the tasks and regulated environments apprentices will be employed in. This ensures apprentices are safe to progress to the development phases of the programme, where they are supported and assessed as they enhance their knowledge, skills and behaviours on real-time aircraft maintenance activities.
For the CAT A and CAT B licences, completing Part 66 exams and working in a Part 145 environment will be sufficient to support Part 66 aircraft maintenance licence applications.
How long does the programme last, and what qualifications would an apprentice receive upon completing the course?
As with all apprenticeships, the main qualification is the apprenticeship itself. The level 2 is around 15 months with a 3-month End Point Assessment (EPA) window. This has no mandated qualifications but uses recognised awarding organisation qualifications as a means of ensuring competence.
The duration of the level 3 apprenticeship depends on our client’s needs. We provide a bespoke programme ranging between 24 months (plus a 3-month EPA window) or 36 months (including the EPA window). During this time, apprentices will spend between 8 and 12 months with Resource Group; again, the duration of this is dependent on the employer.
The main objective of the level 3 apprenticeship programme is the Part 66 licence application, and so by taking our fully approved syllabus in our regulated maintenance environment enables apprentices to apply for their licence quicker. This level 3 apprenticeship also includes two mandatory qualifications, the foundation (level 2) and development (level 3) competencies. These are called competence qualifications.
The level 4 programme is also flexible in duration and is based on the employing organisation’s maintenance activities, as well as the availability of the apprentice to attend Part 66 module deliveries and exams. The level 4 programme also includes two mandatory qualifications, the foundation (level 2) and development (level 4) competencies, and so the duration of the programme also depends on the time it takes apprentices to collect evidence for their development competence qualifications.
How often do you take on new cohorts, and how many apprentices do you accept?
In 2022, we saw the beginning of the return to pre-pandemic engagement with apprentice employers.
CAT A – Level 3
The number of apprentices recruited has steadily grown back to 109 starters on the Level 3 CAT A programme. As an industry embedded training provider, we are not limited to academic/school term times, and so apprenticeship cohorts for this programme are taken on at a time that is suitable for both the employer and Resource Group’s availability.
CAT B – Level 4
The CAT B apprenticeship is very different to the CAT A programme and is linked to four starting points each year. We do this as the cohorts consist of experienced personnel from a wide variety of employers, and operators cannot release all of their selected staff on apprenticeship programmes at the same time.
Regardless of programme, we do not run cohorts below 10 or above 26 apprentices, unless there is a split possible during the practical skills elements, e.g. fixed and rotary wing. This allows us to keep the instructor/assessor to apprentice ratios below 15.
What is the application process like?
When we receive your application, we will ask you to upload your exam certificates and passport (or right to work documentation) to our portal, and you will answer some basic questions to make sure you are eligible for the apprenticeship and to find out a little about you. If you pass this stage, you may then be invited to take part in a video interview call with one of our friendly recruiters.
The final stage of the process is an assessment day with the employer. Selected applicants will be invited and the day normally consists of a face-to-face interview with the employer, some fun team exercises, a task designed to test your hand skills, and a psychometric (personality) test.
You work with airlines and other aviation companies to deliver apprenticeships on their behalf; could you tell us a little about how this works, and what sort of companies you work with?
From our many years of experience, we are aware of all the mandated and regulatory building blocks necessary to provide an apprenticeship. So, when working with an employer, we offer a programme that matches their business operation and staffing pipelines to ensure they get exactly what they need.
We work with a range of employers from commercial to military, including rotary and fixed wing, airlines, bizjet, household names and specialist operators.
Currently, we are working with the likes of TUI, Ryanair, easyJet, British Airways, Draken, Babock, Bristow, Airbus, DHL and many others.
Where in the UK do your apprenticeships take place?
In addition to our main training facility at Cotswold Airport (Kemble) where we deliver apprenticeship programmes, we also have regional training hubs for Part 66 theoretical and hand skills training at London Stansted, Luton, and Heathrow airports. However, at some point during the programme, remote apprentices will train in our Part 147 regulated training hangar (Kemble) which includes six training aircraft, to ensure they gain competence and confidence working in the demanding environment of aircraft maintenance engineering, as it emulates a Part 145 Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) workplace.
What are some of the biggest benefits of undertaking an apprenticeship at Resource Group?
Resource Group is a UK CAA and EASA Part 147 Approved Basic Training Organisation, described by the UK CAA as ‘setting the industry standard’.
We have been delivering apprenticeships for over 17 years and have an established reputation as the leading training provider for the aviation industry, so you can rest assured that you’re in good hands.
We provide the full career pathway delivering UK apprenticeships – UK CAA and EASA Part 66 CAT A1/A3 at Level 3 and CAT B1.1/B1.3/B2 at Level 4 – which meet regulator needs.
We also have a Part 145 maintenance facility, and our training is underpinned by approvals from Ofsted, City & Guilds, and EAL.
We care about our apprentices; during the recent pandemic when some apprentices were made redundant, Resource Group employed them directly at our own cost and placed them with operators and a Part 145 maintenance facility, just so they could complete their apprenticeships.
What career opportunities exist for those who have completed an apprenticeship with you?
Our current offerings are Part 66 aligned and meet regulator needs, so the opportunities for further employment and progression within the industry are extremely high. Many of our apprentices continue working with their apprenticeship employer after the programme finishes, and others have moved to other aviation employers.
What are the company’s main goals for the future in terms of bringing in new talent to the aviation industry?
Over the last 20 years, we have been delivering what operators need in terms of knowledge and skills defined by the regulators and employers. The current, and future, apprenticeship standards are designed by employers for employers – with a little help from specialist providers, awarding bodies and end point assessment organisations. With regular reviews, the standards will remain suitable as the structure for employers to recruit, train and retain capable and confident staff. We will continue to position ourselves as the go to training solution for our industry.
We have also opened regional training hubs to be able to provide training closer to our clients, meaning they can save costs on apprentice travel and accommodation. By bringing training closer to clients, it means we will be able to work with more companies to offer more apprenticeship opportunities.
What advice would you give to young and aspiring engineers who may be considering an apprenticeship?
Entering the industry as an apprentice aircraft engineer, at CAT A, CAT B (or as an aircraft maintenance mechanic), requires a high level of commitment. The first element of training involves a great deal of classroom work and examinations, including multi choice exams and essays, and will involve you studying at one of our UK CAA and EASA approved Part 147 training centres. For some of our Apprenticeships, the initial 8-10 months of the training is residential, and you may therefore be required to be away from home for this period. However, if you are really passionate about aviation and engineering, you’ll find it interesting and rewarding.
The second element involves work-based learning in your employer’s facilities, learning how they do the tasks needed to keep their fleet of aircraft flying. You will be fully supported by our assessors who will guide you as you build your portfolio of evidence.
An apprenticeship will not only offer you the chance to gain qualifications whilst being in employment, but with Resource Group, you will also benefit from following a direct route to your Part 66 licence. It will also offer you a clear career path into an exciting and rewarding career in aviation.
Employers will want to see evidence of your passion and interest in aviation and engineering, so you might want to consider how you could demonstrate this to a potential employer - perhaps through your knowledge of aircraft and flight, your choice of hobbies or work experience.
Manual dexterity is also an important skill for an aircraft engineer to have, and you will normally be tested on this as part of the recruitment process. So, you would benefit from practising tasks that will develop your finer practical skills. For example, building models, electronic circuits, sewing, PC building, mechanics.
You’ll need a minimum Grade C in GCSE Maths and English to be eligible for the apprenticeship programme, so make sure you get these under your belt before you apply. Some employers will require you to have a C or above in Science(s). Maths and Physics are the core subjects on the apprenticeship so a good grade in both subjects will stand you in good stead for the academic side of the apprenticeship.
And if you are unsuccessful with one employer, try with another. All have staff who maintain aircraft but they look for different things that match the culture of their particular organisations.
Learn more about apprenticeships with Resource Group here.
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