Celebrating our apprentices

At the end of 2019 we launched our brand new Early Careers offering with exciting apprenticeship, undergraduate and graduate opportunities.

NATS offers fantastic training, the chance to work with advanced technologies, a multitude of employee benefits and a friendly working environment; so people can advance their careers whilst helping shaping the future of the aviation industry.

But we know apprenticeships can come with a lot of misconceptions, especially in the science and technology sectors, so for National Apprenticeship Week (3-9 February) we took part in the Education & Skills Funding Agency’s campaign to #AskAnEmployer and bust some common apprenticeship myths!

I spoke to a few of our current students about their course and route into NATS…

Rachel Hall, Risk and Safety Leadership apprentice

I joined the Royal Air Force in 1997 and was lucky enough to experience many exciting postings, which included Scotland, Germany, Croatia, the Middle East and London.  In June 2008 I was selected for air traffic controller training, passed the course and then posted to MOD Boscombe Down, the home of military aircraft testing and evaluation.  This was a varied and exciting post as I got to experience a wide diversity of aircraft operating in a complex and dynamic environment.

My last role in the RAF was as a military controller and Safety Manager working in the Terminal Control (TC) Ops Room at Swanwick. The experiences gained within my safety role within TC and from witnessing first-hand the major changes to military aviation, stimulated my interest in safety and risk management.  I feel very lucky that after 22 rewarding years in the RAF I have now started an exciting new career path sponsored by NATS to study for a MSc at Portsmouth University whilst working in Technical Assurance.

My first few months working for NATS has been so far fantastic, I have been particularly impressed with how supportive and helpful NATS employees have been.  It has made my transition from leaving the military which can be challenging, a seamless, positive experience.

At the present time I am working on an important project called IPA (Independent Parallel Approaches) – assisting with safety assessments, plans and hazard identification.  This has also been an exciting, and enjoyable, as my previous experience as a Military controller in Terminal Control has meant that I recognise at least 10% of the NATS acronyms!

In the coming months I am looking forward to continuing with my MSc Studies and remaining with the IPA Project as the new designs are implemented.

Ben Cornish, Project Management Apprentice   

As much as Uni looked like a laugh, I was a bit tired of being sat in a classroom and wanted to get my foot into full-time employment, plus getting paid to gain the same qualifications is always a bonus!

Prior to joining NATS my understanding of aviation was as basic as most other peoples. My only interaction with it was going anywhere with better weather than the UK (which to be fair is pretty much anywhere).

The aviation industry really interested me and I had heard NATS was a really great company with lots of benefits and opportunities that would allow me to progress my career and it has been exactly that so far.

I spend about half my week completing tasks for different NATS projects, including assurance planning, updating project task trackers and conducting airport/site visits.

I am completing this apprenticeship with Saints Learning, so a few times a month I visit Saint Mary’s for Focus Groups and Masterclasses. My Apprenticeship work is more focused on completing practice exam questions and updating our contact logs.

My favourite thing about the apprenticeship would be a mix between the people I work with and the amount of responsibility we are given. The people I work with make everyday a good laugh and I feel as though the responsibility gives me direction.

What I want to do after my apprenticeship is a tough one because there are almost endless possibilities of a career inside of NATS alone. I want to keep an open mind and utilise the skills I develop throughout my apprenticeship to keep challenging myself.

Emily Darwin, Risk and Safety Leadership apprentice

Originally from The Lake District, I made the move down south to Guildford in 2015 to complete my Physics degree at the University of Surrey, where I completed an industrial placement year at the engineering consultancy, Atkins.

While at Atkins I completed work on safety-based projects, including updating cases and producing and presenting documents to clients. Further to this I also ran work experience weeks for local students.

This brief experience in the world of safety and assurance led me to pursue a career in these areas in the aviation industry which I have always enjoyed learning about. I hope that by completing the Risk and Safety Masters Apprenticeship here at NATS I can continue learning more about this industry and role.

I’m currently working on the DP Lower Assurance work which includes running key assurance risks and hazard identification workshops. It’s been a steep learning curve understanding the processes / techniques involved, as well as trying to improve my knowledge of the technical systems involved, but it has definitely been enjoyable.

Outside of work I enjoy cooking, fell walking back home in Cumbria as well as volunteering at a local GirlGuiding group.

I’ve really enjoyed my first couple of months here, learning so much about the world of NATS, surrounded by so many helpful and friendly people it’s been an amazing start, and I can’t wait to see what the future has in store!

Some of our apprentices.

If you’re interested in an apprenticeship at NATS, we have opportunities for people at any stage of their career. Browse our vacancies & apply online >> www.nats.aero/careers/early-careers


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