Apprentice Engineer’s Career Takes Off at Boeing

Nineteen-year-old Dan Schofield is enjoying the first year of a prestigious engineering apprenticeship for Boeing, the world’s largest aerospace company.

The former UTC Sheffield student is learning in a hi-tech training centre at the University of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre with Boeing (AMRC), a world-class engineering research campus founded in 2001 by Boeing and the University of Sheffield.

National Apprenticeship Week, from March 5th to 9th, celebrates the benefits of apprenticeships and showcases how they work for individuals, employers, communities and the economy.

Dan’s apprenticeship is preparing him for a job as a CNC operator in Boeing’s new 6,200 square metre production facility, currently under construction at Sheffield Business Park. This will be Boeing’s first manufacturing facility in Europe.

Dan is pleased that he chose an apprenticeship rather than further study at university. He said: “It’s hands-on, which you don’t get with a degree. Until you’re in a workshop, you can’t grasp what the job you’re aiming for is like. With an apprenticeship, you’re being paid to learn more. I earn a salary and get a job at the end of it with more qualifications.”

Dan is ambitious to progress in engineering: “I aim to stay with Boeing and work my way up, developing my education as I go. As a global company, there are opportunities overseas. At the moment, I’m enjoying my new course at the AMRC Training Centre. I spend most days between 8.00am and 4.00pm on the workshop floor, creating pieces for assessment. I like the fact that it’s so hands-on.”

Dan is learning how to make actuator system components for Boeing’s commercial airplanes, the Next-Generation 737, 737 MAX and 777. These actuation system components will be used on the trailing edge of the aircraft wings. Trailing edge actuation systems are responsible for extending and retracting the wings’ flaps during different phases of flight. The flaps add lift to enable take-off and landing at lower speeds and provide drag to help slow the aircraft.

Dan is relishing the challenge and feels that his previous education at UTC Sheffield, which is Ofsted graded ‘good’, was good preparation. He studied an OCR Cambridge Technical Level 3 in Engineering, equivalent to one-and-a-half A Levels, alongside two A Levels in Physics and Product Design at the UTC.

Dan said: “It was a challenging workload but it was worth it. It was a better foundation than if I’d just done vocational qualifications or just done A Levels. The UTC has a lot of great kit so you can build up your practical experience, which is very beneficial. I’ve been able to progress much quicker at the AMRC Training Centre on the manual turning unit, for example, because of all my experience at the UTC.”

The process of securing an apprenticeship with Boeing was very rigorous and competitive. Dan had to go through an assessment centre at the AMRC to start with. Then there was an open evening at the AMRC Training Centre with a number of employers. Dan talked to Boeing there and applied for one of their apprenticeship opportunities, which led to an interview.

Letisha Smith, Curriculum Director for Engineering, UTC Sheffield City Centre campus, said: “We’re very proud of how well Dan has done. To secure an apprenticeship with Boeing is a great achievement and it’s a testament to Dan’s hard work and the way we develop our engineers to stand out from the crowd.”

Of the students who finished their studies at the UTC in summer 2017, 35% have gone on to university, including Russell Group institutions, when the national average for schools is 38.1% and 55% have gone on to apprenticeships when the national average for schools is 8.4%. In addition, 100% of UTC leavers in 2017 have gone on to a positive destination including university, an apprenticeship, employment or further training. None are classed as NEETs (Not in Employment, Education or Training).

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