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Case Study


Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group (Marshall ADG) is a major UK company specialising in the design, manufacture, maintenance, modification, conversion and logistic support of military, commercial and business aircraft.

Supporting 18 air forces worldwide, it also supports the UK Armed Forces and other organisations around the globe with innovative maintenance and logistics programmes.

Marshall ADG has protected people in critical situations for over 109 years, delivering world-leading applied engineering services to a wide range of global customers. Marshall ADG is a private company located at Cambridge Airport, which it also owns and operates, and has over 4,400 employees.

Why does your organisation operate an apprenticeship scheme and how many apprentices do you have at any one time?

As one of the largest and most versatile Aerospace and Defence companies in the UK, we appreciate the importance and value created by apprenticeships and have delivered engineering training programmes and apprenticeships for 100 years.

Apprentices are professionally trained to become highly-skilled in aircraft mechanical or electrical / avionics trades or skilled fitters on military shelters/equipment or mechanical or electrical/avionics design engineers.

The business as a whole recognises the importance of the apprenticeship scheme in ensuring that skills gaps are filled, and new ideas are introduced into the industry. All of our apprentices have the potential to become top engineering professionals at the group.

We currently have over 100 apprentices in the business, and most of our engineering apprenticeships are delivered over a four-year period, enabling the knowledge to be embedded over time.

What apprenticeships are you likely to recruit in the next year?

Each year we offer places in a variety of engineering specialisms on our Apprenticeship Programme.

We recruit to business demand, with the forward strategy of the business determining the number of apprentices taken on each year. Due to the size and nature of Marshall we recruit engineering apprentices on Level 3 Advanced Apprenticeships and also Level 6 Degree Apprenticeships. We also offer a number of advanced apprentices in Business Administration to support the back office departments in Marshall.

The Marshall Apprenticeship offers more that the ‘standard’ apprenticeship, and along with extensive hands-on experience, our apprenticeships also cover:

  • Electrical/mechanical skills
  • Practical and theoretical engineering knowledge
  • Company systems knowledge, national and international regulations
  • Health and safety regulations and behaviour training
How do you recruit apprentices?

We have a set programme of school visits and career fairs which we attend each year. We have also recently introduced Taster Days for students in year 10 and above.

We have one intake per year and the recruitment for this starts in December, for a September start date.

We have a high number of applicants each year and therefore have an intensive application process; including an assessment day. This is followed by a more formal interview for those who were successful at the assessment day. It is a competitive selection process but for those who make it onto our career-launching apprenticeships, the opportunity to train on the job and be paid while you learn is hard to match.

For the successful applicants, we then hold a family day, which allows the apprentice’s family to tour our facilities and talk to the training and business unit staff before the start of the apprenticeship.

What’s a typical day like for an apprentice at Marshall ADG and how do you train your apprentices?

Over the four years of the Marshall Apprenticeship there is a structured approach to the training. The first stage is delivered in our bespoke apprentice workshop, developing engineering ‘hands on’ skills over approximately eight months. This is supported by a dedicated team of instructors and culminates in a Level 2 qualification.

This is followed by classroom delivery of the knowledge qualifications. We have a dedicated team of tutors for this stage and this is delivered in our Academy site in Cambridge. On completion of the theory, the ‘on the job’ training commences, where the apprentices will work alongside experienced engineers. A team of assessors and mentors support this important phase of the apprenticeship.

How many of your apprentices stay on at the end of their programme?

The majority of our apprentices (over 95%) stay in employment on completion of their apprenticeship, with many going on to have a long and varied careers at Marshall.

Marshall is proud to have trained apprentices continuously since 1920. Although we manage our own apprentice training in Marshall ADG, we are subject to inspection by OFSTED, and the scheme achieved top grades following a monitoring visit in October 2018.

Our people remain at the heart of our business; we are committed to their development, with recognition and reward a vital part of this commitment.

Which of the three Pledges on apprenticeships did you sign, and why?
  1. To consider an apprenticeship whenever we need new people
  2. To recruit at least one new apprentice this year
  3. To learn more about how we could introduce apprenticeships into our business

We are proud to have signed the Greater Cambridge Partnership Pledge, and did so because it demonstrates our ongoing commitment to apprenticeship delivery in Cambridge.

In the years to come we will develop further our apprentice and training programmes through the Marshall Centre. The Marshall Centre aims to create a ‘learning environment that will transform Marshall, prioritise diversity, enrich our people, our customers, our partners and make Cambridge a better place’.

Furthermore, Marshall ADG is a proud member of the 5% Club. The Club consists of UK companies wishing to invest in skills creation and employability, pledging to ensure that at least 5% of its workforce apprentices or students on formal programmes. Since 2015, Marshall ADG has consistently achieved a result of more than 10%.

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