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Babcock’s apprenticeship programme at RAF Valley a beacon of collaboration

A team of apprentices is playing an important role in helping to train the next generation of fighter pilots by maintaining the Hawk T2 jets that fly at RAF Valley on Anglesey.

The successful apprenticeship programme established by Babcock’s Aviation business at RAF Valley in 2016 is a shining example of collaboration.

The company, which has a workforce of more than 28,000 globally, works closely with the RAF, BAE Systems, Grŵp Llandrillo Menai, Hyfforddiant Arfon Dwyfor Training and the Regional Skills Partnership to deliver apprenticeships that benefit North Wales.

Now, Babcock Aviation has been shortlisted for the prestigious Apprenticeship Awards Cymru 2024 as a Macro Employer of the Year finalist.

Highlight of the year for apprentices, employers and work-based learning providers and practitioners, the awards are organised by the Welsh Government and supported by the National Training Federation for Wales (NTfW). Headline sponsor is EAL.

The winners will be announced at an awards ceremony to be held at ICC Wales, Newport on March 22, 2024. The awards highlight the outstanding achievements of employers, apprentices and work-based learning practitioners.

In the last five years, 171 apprentices have completed their training at RAF Valley with Babcock, with 29 employees currently working towards apprenticeships. Many former apprentices still work for the company, including a number of female engineers.

Grŵp Llandrillo Menai and Hyfforddiant Arfon Dwyfor Training deliver apprenticeships ranging from Aerospace Engineering Maintenance, Warehousing and Storage to Business Administration, Management, Customer Service and Information Advice and Guidance from Levels 2 to 4.

A leading aerospace and defence company, Babcock created its apprenticeship programme to meet business needs, provide career opportunities, address an engineering skills gap and promote diversity, inclusion and equal opportunities.

The programme has positively impacted the engineering sector and the Anglesey community by addressing youth unemployment, gender stereotyping and barriers faced by under-represented groups.

Babcock provides a comprehensive learning experience that prepares apprentices for sustainable employment opportunities.

“By incorporating industry expertise, technology and mentorship support, we equip our apprentices with the necessary skills, knowledge and confidence to excel in their chosen careers,” said Bethan McCrohan, Babcock’s apprentice supervisor and lead training co-ordinator at RAF Valley. “The programme contributes to a skilled, diverse and inclusive workforce, benefiting both the sector and the community.”

Rhianwen Edwards, Grŵp Llandrillo Menai's director of commercial and work-based learning, said: “Babcock collaborates with education and training providers, the Regional Skills Partnership, industry partners and other stakeholders to enhance the quality and impact of its apprenticeship programme.”

Economy Minister Vaughan Gething congratulated Babcock and all the other finalists. “Today's apprentices will be tomorrow's specialists, and Apprenticeship Awards Cymru allows us to recognise apprentices, work-based learning practitioners, and employers that have gone above and beyond,” he said.

“Their tenacity, passion, and commitment to growing their own careers, the careers of others, and the larger Welsh economy is inspiring. I wish each of the finalists the best of luck at the awards and with their future endeavours.”

Congratulating the finalists, Al Parkes, managing director at EAL, said: “As the specialist awarding organisation and skills partner for the engineering and manufacturing industry, apprenticeships in Wales are especially important to us.

“Apprenticeships play an important role in supporting personal progress through career opportunities and a sense of achievement, while ensuring that employers have the right skills at the right time to keep up with evolving industry needs.

“EAL is committed to encouraging employers to take on apprentices. Marking the achievements of employers, apprentices, and work-based learning practitioners at the Apprenticeship Awards Cymru is vital to this.”