Apprentice, Body Engineering, Early Careers, Engineering, Learning and Development, People, Who We Are

Life of a Jaguar Land Rover Apprentice, What You Need to Know.

You’re probably thinking of going to university. Or maybe you’re about to leave the family nest, in search of education and an adventure. I certainly know that feeling. I’m sure you’re thinking about how to put your best foot forward as you step out into the big bad world, how to get the best out of your chosen career and how to best reach your potential.

Let me introduce myself, and I’ll share how I’m trying to do just that myself. My name is Callum, aged 20, I joined David Game College in 2017, I studied A-level maths and as I grew into the year, I found the concept of taking out enormous loans to further my education less and less enticing. In addition, through the variety of voluntary projects I’ve been involved in, I discovered how satisfying it is to work with your hands; building, making, creating and decided I wanted to continue learning in this way.

I began investigating apprenticeships in early October 2017.

An apprenticeship, in case you don’t know, is a course of study you can take under the employment of a business or institution, where you work and study for recognised qualifications. You’ll receive on-the-job training for your chosen career path, and get paid for your time. In addition to gaining an income and the associated responsibilities of this (paying for your board and lodgings for one) I found there were many, many benefits to studying this way, a debt-free degree being foremost among them. For example, on the scheme I’ve been accepted on (Vehicle Engineering with Jaguar Land Rover) I’ll receive a BEng in Applied Engineering from the University of Warwick (one of the Russell group Universities, which has a fantastic engineering and maths department) saving me up to £80,000 over 4 years. Best of all, an Apprenticeship gives you the opportunity to learn, grow, mature and take responsibility in a working environment in a way that going to university the “normal way” just does not.

I started my apprenticeship on the 3rd of September, commencing with an induction week at the Ricoh Arena, Coventry. Here I received excellent motivational speeches, inspirational lessons on the separate design languages of Jaguar and Land Rover, and had lots of opportunities to network and make friends with my newfound workmates. I received my uniform, which I am to wear to college and work, and met my line manager, who will be responsible for my development and training for the next 6 years.

We also had two very special presentations, one by James Barclay (the Team Director of Jaguar Panasonic Racing Team) and another by the Chief Program Engineer of the brand new Jaguar I-PACE, Jaguars first All-Electric Performance SUV. I then spent the week beginning the 10th of September at Warwickshire Trident College, completing assessments, learning about the company ethos and endeavouring to create an open and inclusive learning environment.

I started my studies in September, and have so far done 3 week blocks of study in Hand Fitting and Electronics. In hand fitting I learned metalwork (the very basics of modern engineering) and in electronics I learned basic soldering techniques and how to build working electronic circuits and logic gates. The work I’m completing right now is of a difficulty between GCSE and A-Level. Next week I’ll be starting an academic block, with Material Sciences, Maths, Physics, Automotive Engineering & Electrical Engineering all on the menu.

As I write this, I’m having a week’s work experience at Gaydon (where I’ll be based as of next year) working with the ‘home department’ I’ve been assigned to. I’ve linked up with my manager and the rest of the team, I’m working with current apprentices and graduates. I get the opportunity to experience what I’ll be doing during and after my apprenticeship, learning from experienced professionals, many of whom were apprentices and so understand what it’s like starting out at a large company. I know that they’re all around to help me if I need it, as we’re all part of a team, each individual is important at Jaguar Land Rover. Using our skills and talents, to create fantastic products for our customers.

Jaguar Land Rover Degree Apprentice.

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Apprentice, Body Engineering, Early Careers, Engineering, Learning and Development, People, Who We Are

Degree Apprenticeship Vs University

When I told people that I wasn’t going to university, I was met with surprise and confusion. “But you have to go to uni…” Etc. Etc. This quickly changed to intrigue when I then said that I would be getting a degree and that I would be paid to do it. University was somewhat of a pre-requisite at the school I attended. You did your GCSE’s and then your A-levels and then you went to university. It’s just what everyone did. (Well, it was either that or you could take a year out to “find yourself” before inevitably taking up a place at university the year after). I always liked to be different, to take an alternative path.

There was a lot of thought that went into deciding to go for a degree apprentice route and many factors which I had to consider. First of all however, it was about finding the opportunity that was right for me. I was in a fortunate position and I knew what I wanted to do. In that respect, the degree apprentice route was perfect for me. I knew I wanted to be an engineer, I enjoyed both maths and physics and the most important thing, I was passionate about STEM. Passion is the most important asset you can have when applying to a degree apprenticeship course, grades are good but at the end of the day, they are only letters on a piece of paper. What will really make you stand out is your experience, having evidence to back up your passion. In my case, I was an Arkwright scholar, a Teen tech National winner, a Big Bang Fair National Winner and a Land Rover in school’s World Finalist. Investing your time into enrichment schemes like these is a great way of getting valuable experience. (I’ll write a future blog going into more depth on how I got the apprenticeship – spoiler: I was rejected the first time).

Many companies offer degree level apprenticeships and many more will do in the future, due to the government’s apprenticeship levy. Whilst this is generally good news, I would be wary of new schemes and research each one properly. For me, the company was absolutely key. JLR is a fantastic forward thinking company which values it’s employees as it’s most valuable asset. After less than a week here, it already feels like home.

Whilst researching each apprenticeship on offer, the most important consideration was the institution that the degree was being offered by. While this may not be important for many people, it was essential for me that the partner university was one that I would consider applying to through UCAS. This narrowed down the options significantly as I could only find 2 schemes which met my criteria. Jaguar Land Rover and Dyson. Both schemes work closely with Warwick University, currently a top 10 university. I successfully applied to both schemes, which were both amazing opportunities in their own right. The choice between the 2 companies were personal decisions based on the location and loyalty to JLR through the Land Rover in schools challenge I am still a part of. Either would have been an honour to be part of and I realise how lucky I was to have the task of making that decision. I also successfully applied to 5 universities through UCAS for mechanical engineering (Warwick, Durham, Leeds, Bath and Bristol), so why did I reject all 5 for a degree apprenticeship?

With degree apprenticeships, all of the hard work is done prior to the offer with tests and interviews being part of the recruitment process. This means for me, to attend Warwick university through UCAS I would need to achieve A*A*A in my a level examinations. To join the Jaguar Land Rover course the requirement was two C’s or above. This offer took some of the pressure off my A level studies and allowed me to spend more time on more STEM enrichment courses as this is what I enjoyed and was passionate about. I was however, determined to still get the best grades I could and scored A*A*A*A.

Secondly, the experience of working on real life projects whilst learning was very appealing. This was made especially clear at the Warwick University open day, ironically enough. Whilst talking to one of the mechanical engineering students there, he told me that he spends his summers on graduate placement schemes at JLR. His words to me were that he learnt more on those placements than the whole time he was at university – and I knew from then that I had to get on to the degree apprenticeship course. The opportunities and skills I could learn were

Probably the most attractive offering from the degree apprenticeship schemes is being paid to learn. And the massive advantage over university is that I won’t have £60k worth of debt – I will be in the black. The salaries offered are very generous and I will try very hard to not be smug in front of my university going friends.

Having been in the education system for the majority of my life, I also felt that the degree apprenticeship would be an opportunity to become an adult and to be treated as one. I want to be responsible for real life projects and make a real difference and that’s something a degree apprenticeship can offer me.

Opting for a degree apprenticeship is definitely the harder option over university. Balancing the work load with school studies will be intense and it will be difficult. But that’s what it’s all about and I can’t wait. University has many advantages over degree apprenticeships. The scope of courses they offer is huge and if you don’t know what career you want to go into then university is the best place to find out. It’s also a great place for personal development with lots of off term time, it can be a place to find and develop new hobbies. Compared with the average of 28 days annual leave on a degree apprenticeship scheme, university clearly allows more time for extra curricular activities.

With both options, there is an opportunity to move away from home, to meet new people and to grow. The degree apprenticeship was right for me for all the above reasons. It might just be right for you too.

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It provides our line managers with the tips, tools and techniques to drive engagement, performance, and ambition within both their teams and the wider global organisation.

It addresses three key areas of management behaviour:

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Over 2,000 line managers across the Jaguar Land Rover global organisation have experienced the Great Line Manager programme.  We have reached as far as Brazil, the USA, South Africa and India. It is a truly global programme, which connects line managers from around the world on our social learning app – a place to share great advice and a brilliant way to learn from each other.

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