“I always knew that an apprenticeship would suit me," he explains. "I’m very hands on and the idea of getting practical work experience alongside my education – and getting paid as well – really appealed. Machining engineering is what I wanted to do, and an apprenticeship was an ideal way into my career.”
Sam joined Lockheed Martin after completing another apprenticeship in a smaller company. “I became stuck,” Sam explained. “I was with the company for around three years and it was a great start, but I wanted to progress further. There were no more opportunities where I was so I started to look around for somewhere I could gain a lot more experience.
“I knew about Lockheed Martin as my mum is part of the cleaning staff at the site, so when I heard about a new intake for manufacturing apprenticeships I jumped at the chance to apply. I knew it would give me the opportunities to progress my career.
“My main job is CNC machining, setting up the machines and programming them. We’re making and modifying parts for major armoured vehicle programmes for the MoD, which is great to be part of. I’ve also been given lots of opportunities to develop, such as completing crane and forklift training, helping me gain a wide variety of work experience and expertise.”
Sam began with two days a week at college and now attends once a week, which he’ll continue to do until he gains his level three apprenticeship later this year. He’s then hoping to start an HNC in September, all while continuing to work the rest of the week at the site.
“The apprenticeship scheme at Ampthill is very well put together. I’ve been supported and mentored throughout. I began by shadowing and watching more senior colleagues, before being given jobs of my own with help available if I needed it. From the beginning I’ve felt I’m making a real contribution. My mentors have been brilliant to learn from and I have ambitions to be as good as them as my career progresses, if not even better!
“There have been challenges along the way, and it can be difficult to juggle a working week with college work, but I get a huge amount of support and I wouldn’t change anything about my apprenticeship. The practical experience I get is invaluable, especially in a sector like machining, where there’s no substitute for real life experience, knowledge and judgement.”
So how does Sam see his career developing over the next few years? “I’d like to go as far as is achievable in my education, and continue to expand my work experience,” he said. “Even when I’ve finished my apprenticeship I’ll still be learning and will continue to learn. At some point I’d like to take my experience further and transfer my practical machining knowledge into drawing and drafting.”
When asked if he would recommend apprenticeships, Sam is passionate. “I have been given the opportunity to learn and work alongside some of the best in the industry. I’ve got no student debt and I’m set up for an ambitious future. I would wholeheartedly recommend an apprenticeship to anyone.”