Celebrating inspiring educators - Leonardo Helicopters

It's no secret that staff at Tribal are passionately dedicated to empowering education around the world. Recently we've been working closely with a whole host of inspiring educators; and after spending time with some of them, we wanted to share their stories. Here's what happened when we went to visit a selection of wonderful inspiring educators…

I drove up to the gates at Leonardo Helicopters and was greeted by a security guard dressed in what looked to be military attire. Immediately I knew this place was serious - of course it was - it builds helicopters for commercial and military use. My thoughts were confirmed when the reception staff took my passport details and insisted on taking a photo mugshot for my visitor pass (which, incidentally, made me look like something from 'America's most wanted'). I sat and waited for my escort. This place was the real deal.

The site was huge, I'm glad I left the high heels at home! It had convenience shops and a restaurant onsite, but the thing that struck me most from walking around the site (particularly as a complete stranger) was how friendly everyone was. Each person I walked past made eye-contact, smiled and said a cheery hello. Everybody seemed genuinely happy to be there.

Several door security checks later and we were in a hangar housing lots of part-built helicopters. We were asked not to take photos, naturally.  In here, we spoke to staff at Leonardo's and got a better understanding of what they're all about. It was evidently clear that they consider their apprenticeship programmes the lifeblood of their business and have for many years. They are fundamental for what they do as a company, and so they have a large intake. The passion for their schemes was obvious and as one of the biggest employers of engineering apprentices in the UK, they really want to offer their staff and students more than just 'a job'. They want to offer them a chance to develop their skills and get a professional career with an industry-leading organisation. They also care deeply about each individual student. They run enrichment activities like outward bound activities, confidence building programmes, and outreach activity in schools with engineering ambassadors. They also support learners on other issues too such as personal problems, finding accommodation or with learning difficulties.

The success rates of the Leonardo Apprentice Training programme are very high – with over 90% of apprentices successfully completing the programme. Many of the company’s senior leaders began their careers as apprentices. We spoke to Ben Lavery, who is the Lead Apprentice Training Manager at Leonardo. Ben told us how he moved from an electrical apprenticeship to the manufacturing shop floor, to an office role, to, now, HR management looking after apprentices. Likewise, Steve Palmer who is Head of Education and Training, started as an apprentice at Leonardo’s 26 years ago as a craft apprentice. He now heads up the education and training arm of the business. Steve regaled us with stories of his days as an apprentice, how he liked taking things apart and understanding how they worked and how, essentially, not much has changed in that respect. Apprentices now, come to work, do real work in a real team, just like Steve did 26 years ago.

However, what has changed are the services that Leonardo’s have added to the scheme. They've given a real sense of 'quality' to the training they provide. Working alongside Yeovil College (they donated a multi-million-pound Helicopter to the college, to give the first year students hands on practical experience) they have helped shape their management to be observant, improve quality of delivery onsite and offsite, helped them shape the information structure, monitor delivery at college, and maintain their skills set for today and in the future.

Later on in the day, we took a walk around the flightline area, where we saw apprentices hard at work, honing their skills and working on aircraft such as Apache helicopters and Norwegian air sea and rescue aircraft. We were lucky enough to talk to some of them about their experiences at Leonardo's. Their enthusiasm and work ethic was incredible to see. We chatted with Tom, a 24-year-old third year apprentice at Leonardo, working on the mechanical side.

He went into an apprenticeship because he always liked aircraft.

“You have to be interested in what you do.” Tom said.

“I got a bit old for Lego so moved onto bigger toys instead” he joked.

“The application was dead simple with Leonardo. It was all online and well managed.”  

“To be a great engineering apprentice you need to have hand skills and be practically minded, but passion is the main thing.”

“For a long time, there’s been a push on going to university. A lot of people who would have been suitable for an apprenticeship would have probably been pushed down a non-vocational route. It’s great now to see an active push in apprenticeships as well.”

Tom was a real asset to the programme.

There were smiles all round, all day; and a sense of real achievement. Practical learning, that impacted real products in a real business.

Tribal is so proud to be able to support such a business with their apprenticeship programme. Our data management services team at Tribal works on behalf of Leonardo’s data management information system – processing data, claims, compliance, and offering advice on changes in policy strategy and apprenticeships. We also provide day to day support of apprenticeships, so that Leonardo can focus on the things that set them apart, such as tailored learning, pastoral support, and so they don’t have to spend unnecessary time on data.  

Our mission is to take their headaches away. There’s no reason why they should need to be experts in learner data - Tribal staff certainly aren’t experts in helicopters!

Watch the video of our day at Leonardo:

Inspired? Read our survey results to see how many colleges and universities and training providers are looking to invest in their student experience, facilities and IT! It's more than you think… 

What are the real challenges and issues people working in education face?

Lauren Hancox

Lauren Hancox

Lauren is Head of Marketing Communications at Tribal Group and is responsible for the delivery of Tribal’s brand messaging and marketing communications strategy. As well as being a marketing enthusiast, Lauren enjoys anything to do with words – writing them, reading them or talking them! She’s a lover of literature and also has (an expensive) passion for travel and exploration.

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