Marshall Apprentices – Out of the Ordinary


Apprenticeships at Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group are really out of the ordinary.

Every year we have hundreds of young people apply to start careers with us through our coveted apprenticeship scheme and that means we get to choose from the very best talent around. In 2020 we celebrated the centenary of our industry-leading apprenticeship scheme, one of the few schemes that can boast a continuous 100 year history. Over that time we’ve trained more than 20,000 skilled people to fulfil vital aerospace engineering roles - here’s just a few of their stories...

Becoming a TV Star

As an Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group Apprentice, you may even get the chance to quite literally show your ‘Star Quality’ by broadcasting live to the nation! That’s exactly what our happened to our apprentices James Potter and Matt Garland back in the summer of 2020 when Covid-19 meant the cancellation of the Royal International Air Tattoo - one of the biggest events on the global aerospace calendar.

Disappointed but undeterred that their plans to showcase Marshall Apprenticeships at the show’s STEM focussed Techno Zone they set about creating their own day long Live Stream event, action packed with live aerospace themed competitions, interviews and demonstrations – the highlight of the event being an interview with members of the Blue Angels, the US Navy Flight Demonstration Squad.

Commenting on the experience, Matt said:

“Hosting such a long and intense event really pushed me very much out of my comfort zone, however with the support of my co-host James, previous experiences of going to events with Marshall ADG and various STEM events, we were able to exceed expectations and perform well.

“It was an excellent opportunity to speak with a number of professionals from across the business, allowing us to gain a much broader understanding and varied perspective. From my experience during the Marshall Apprenticeship scheme and opportunities presented, not only do you gain a vast amount of engineering knowledge and experience, but you learn how to conduct yourself, speak with other professionals and have confidence in your own work which helps to becoming a well-rounded engineer.”

James also commented:

“Hosting a live show was certainly not what I expected to be doing one year out of my apprenticeship, but it was great fun. The opportunities we’ve had working for Marshall ADG have been amazing, as I’ve also been involved in lots of STEM outreach events and careers fairs. For me, these are a great way to engage with the younger generations to promote careers in STEM in a way that I certainly didn’t have when I was in school.

"Unfortunately, Matt and myself still haven’t been offered our TV deal, so it looks like we’ll have to stick to engineering for now!"

Now graduated from our apprenticeship scheme, we are proud to have them both working for us full-time. James is a Product Development Engineer and Matt as an Aircraft Repairs Design Engineer on International C130 Platforms.

Click the button below to watch the live-stream on our YouTube channel with full chapter functionality so you can skip to the bits that you want.

Watch the Live Stream

Supporting the iconic Blue Angels display team

Apprentice Ollie Higgins can barely of imagined he’d find himself working on one of the world’s most iconic aircraft when he made his application to join our team of avionics apprentices.

But that’s exactly what happened after we were awarded the contract to support the service of the replacement for the Blue Angels’ iconic Fat Albert, the support aircraft to the US Navy’s air display team.

The new Fat Albert is a C-130J Super Hercules that takes part in the display team’s flying performances, as well as being a crucial support aircraft, carrying the Blue Angels’ tools, spare parts and engineers.

No wonder then that second year Aircraft Avionics Apprentice, Ollie Higgins was ecstatic as he got the opportunity to join the team working on Fat Albert in early August 2019 to perform depth maintenance on the aircraft. Not your typical role as an apprentice!

Ollie commented:

“At the time of joining the team I was only just finishing my second year of my apprenticeship and so many of the systems and jobs I was doing on Fat Albert were completely new to me. I was extremely lucky to have such an experienced team around me to guide me through any issues I had and I quickly picked up new skills that helped me be more effective. The aircraft was a big challenge for me at such an early stage in my career, but I also saw this as such exciting opportunity to work on one of the most famous aircraft in the world.

"The knowledge I gained from this input is without doubt crucial to my future career. The amount of tasks I got to complete that are of use to my Level 3 qualification is incredible and has put me in a great place in completing my qualifications. The experience I gained in just under a year working on Fat Albert has massively helped me on subsequent aircraft and inputs I have worked on since. It increased the confidence in my own ability to carry out tasks to an extremely high standard.

"I feel extremely lucky to have had the chance to gain so much from working on Fat Albert.”

Another of our Avionics Apprentices, Callum Brown commented:

“I was also lucky enough to be part of the team working on Fat Albert. My role included the removal and installation of the completely new IFF system (Identify Friend or Foe), as well as stripping back the flight deck and re-building it to the US Navy configuration. I was involved in almost every modification on the aircraft while the aircraft was here!

"This project was completely different to anything else I have worked on, extremely complicated but incredibly gratifying. I personally felt I had more responsibly and was in communication with the customer at all times, while still being an apprentice. Working on Fat Albert drastically improved my aircraft type knowledge, and ability to solve problems at a faster rate which I can carry on into my career.”

After modification, Fat Albert was then repainted in the Blue Angels’ iconic blue, yellow and white colours at our headquarters in Cambridge, UK.

Watch the Paint Reveal

Designing life-saving devices

When your ‘day job’ is helping manufacture parts for aircraft and other military equipment you probably don’t expect to find yourself working on a piece of life-saving medical equipment designed to support the battle against Covid-19.

However, apprentice Josh, found himself at the heart of our team who helped to develop and prototype the new exovent negative pressure ventilator last summer – rubbing shoulders with some of the UK’s pre-eminent medics who helped refine the design for maximum comfort.

Josh Lucas, who is now working as a Manufacturing Support Machinist recalls his time working on this life-saving project.

“I was involved on the project from the early stage of prototyping. We spent a weekend influencing the design of the ventilator through what was the best way to manufacture in order to prove the concept. I followed the whole process of the prototype over the course of about a week, with some very long days to get to certain points on the project.

"We manufactured most parts of the ventilator in house ourselves while only using a few off the shelf items. I was heavily involved in the manufacture of sheet metal and machined components and the assembly of all the components to form the ventilator. It was a small group who worked on the prototype but it was great to be able to have such an influence on the design and to be able to express my knowledge that I had built to inform what may or may not work.

"After the initial prototype was manufactured and the design was cleared, we started manufacturing five ventilators, where I was involved throughout.

"It was a very exciting project to be part of and everyone was so motivated to do their best as we knew we would be making a real difference to the world. It was also great to work with such an experienced team both in design and Manufacturing Support, which helped me gain even more knowledge to help with my future career."

Exovent prototype manufacturing team left to right: Ian Sparrow, Manufacturing Engineer; Josh Haynes, Manufacturing Support Team Leader; Adam Hughes, Assistant Manufacturing Manager; Josh Lucas.

If you’d like to find out more about our apprenticeship scheme or how you can apply to join, please click the button below.

Marshall Centre Apprenticeships