Amy WalmsleyAmy is a second-year Craft Apprentice at BAE Systems, working in the Air Business. Her role involves the fabrication of component parts and structures for a range of military aircraft.

Amy has always had a passion for design and hands-on work, undertaking a construction qualification while she was still at school. Amy is excited by the opportunity to kick-start a career in a large organisation that afforded a lot of opportunities, and the ability to learn from world class experts.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

I am a second-year Craft Apprentice at BAE Systems, working in the Air sector. My current role is a fabricator which involves the construction of component parts and structures for a range of military aircraft. During my training I’ve covered many different trades in order to get an appreciation for them all and a better understanding. I’ve covered fitting, built in testing, computer assisted design and then specialised in fabrication at the end of my time in the training centre. I started my apprenticeship as soon as I left school at the age of 16, as I wanted to go straight into the working world and do a more hands-on job.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I  knew that I wanted a hands-on job from a young age. I was always in my garage experimenting and making various things and in school I enjoyed design technology and art. In my last two years at high school I started a college course in construction and achieved a level 2 vocational qualification. This really helped to spur on my passion and made me even more certain that this was something I wanted to do as a career.

When I was in my last year of high school I started to think more in depth about what path I wanted to go down and I started to look at apprenticeships. Once I applied for the open day at BAE Systems, I knew then that it was a fit for me. I knew if I applied and got in I would have a job for life and an amazing career with the company.

What advice would you give to someone thinking about doing an apprenticeship?

I would say just to go for it! Don’t underestimate an apprenticeship as an alternative to higher education when thinking about your options. Particularly given the advantages of debt free on the job learning, a competitive salary and a guaranteed job.

What top tips would you give to an individual who is trying to excel in their career in technology?

Keep pushing yourself, and always look out for any change to further develop your skills. Another thing would be to always take opportunities that come your way or any extra training or qualifications. These will help you to learn and grow as well as figure out your areas of strength. There are so many possibilities for a career within Technology or STEM, there’s always something that you can excel at.

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Do you believe there are still barriers for success for women working in tech, if so, how can these barriers be overcome?

I feel like  women working in engineering is definitely something you see a lot more of, so progress has been made. Personally, I think one major barrier is that many women still see technology as a male dominated field and don’t understand it is a possibility for them . I think more needs to be done in terms of education and challenging stereotypes about women in technology, so more people feel inspired and welcomed into the sector.

What do you think companies can do to support to progress the careers of women working in technology?

I think organisations should focus more on young women while they are at school – to inspire an interest in a technology career at a young age. For example, partnering with  schools and running regular events for female students, or creating a scheme where women can do work experience  with a company to see what it’s actually like to work there. Getting more young women in the door at the early stages of their career will have a significant positive impact on the overall company culture further down the line.

There are currently only 17 per cent of women working in tech, if you could wave a magic wand, what is the one thing you would do to accelerate the pace of change for women in the industry?

If I could wave a magic wand, I would make sure that more women know this is a possibility for them. One of the main challenges is changing misconceptions and making it clear that careers in engineering, and tech more generally, vary greatly and there are roles that suit all sorts of people and skill sets. While I was at school, I would have loved it if female engineers had come in to share their experience and get more girls excited about a career in engineering of technology.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

There are many resources found online to support women working in different technology jobs. There’s a great website called WES (Women’s Engineering Society) which is there to help raise the profile of women in engineering. Also another site called prospects which shows where the opportunities for women in engineering are. If you are at school and a bit unsure where to start, you can also find great resources at a careers fair.