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Freddie keen to set sail on voyage of engineering discovery

For many school leavers, the step into the outside world, and the decision over whether to continue in full-time education or enter the job market, can be a daunting one. 

Apprenticeships combine the best of both worlds, offering youngsters the opportunity to continue learning whilst in the workplace, and often opening up career paths along the way. 

Our school encourages students to consider the opportunities offered by apprenticeships, and among this year’s school leavers, there are students who will be taking up roles in organisations as diverse as the Walt Disney Corporation, a local nursery, dental nursing – and submarine engineering. 

In September, Freddie Coates will start a four-year apprenticeship at BAE Systems, working on some of the most cutting-edge and exciting developments in submarine technology, something he said he was looking forward to hugely. 

“Initially, I wanted to go to university for the social aspects, but once I explored the wide range of benefits of doing an apprenticeship, including the excellent work experience with a globally recognised company and not having to pay a single penny, it seemed a no-brainer,” he said.  

“The financial factor was definitely important – I realised that while my friends were building up student debt, I would be on a decent salary right from the start, with the potential to go up, which would stand me in great stead in the longer term.” 

Freddie was among 9,000 hopefuls from across the whole of the UK applying for just 800 places, and the application process included sending a CV and covering letter, setting out his reasons for applying, before being called for an interview, and later made an offer. 

“I’d been rejected from a few apprenticeships before, so when this one of all organisations came through, at first I was in shock, and then thrilled once I got used to the idea,” he said. “It really lifted my confidence after some of the previous knock-backs.” 

Freddie said his subject choices at school, including STEM-based classes, and work experience, albeit virtual because of the pandemic, had definitely been contributory factors to his success in landing his role with BAE, as was his demonstrable wider interest in the topic of engineering. Now, he is looking forward to an exciting, hopefully long-term, future in the industry. 

“The apprenticeship lasts for approximately four years and I will be involved in the design and development of the next class of Dreadnought nuclear submarines for the Royal Navy,” he said. 

“At the end of that time, I will have no student debt, so I’d like to pursue a masters or a doctorate in a more specialised area of engineering, or alternatively continue in the industry, because it’s such a big, international field, and this training will set me up for it perfectly.”