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James’ aero industry career soars – thanks to an apprenticeship


“I’ve always believed if you work hard and persevere at something, you can achieve great things,” says James Jackson.

James should know. His hard work and perseverance achieved him a Distinction in the End Point Assessment of his Level 3 Mechanical Engineering apprenticeship, and this has helped earn him a promotion at work.

The 4-year journey to full qualification began with Swatpro Academy's engineering delivery partner: the British Engineering Manufacturers Association (BEMA) training centre at Yate, just north of James’ Bristol home.

Swatpro Academy and BEMA are regional specialists at providing highly successful, industry-led, bespoke apprenticeships. They work with a variety of employers, particularly in the aerospace industry.

So, what led James to his apprenticeship?

“I always dreamed of a job in aero engineering, but the college course I undertook after school just didn’t excite me,” he recalls.

“I spent all my time writing essays and hardly saw a machine shop. I wanted something that would increase my practical skills and knowledge.”

BEMA was suggested by a friend. James undertook an interview there, and impressed BEMA staff recommended him to local firm Scott Aerospace, who were looking for a new apprentice.

Established in 1983, Scott Aerospace is a medium-size engineering technology firm operating primarily in the aerospace industry and specialising in creating ultra-safe, technically demanding solutions for prestige clients, such as Rolls Royce.

“I can’t praise BEMA enough,” adds James. “I was learning every day, using up-to-date and excellently maintained machinery - and they made things fun. Really enjoyable.

“I particularly want to thank my tutor, Paul Fricker, for his encouragement and the way he taught me new skills.”

As his knowledge base increased, James picked up a hatful of certificates for different engineering competencies, and practice at the training centre gave way to work in the real world with his employer, while still under the training supervision of BEMA.

After dealing with the lockdown without problems, James completed the course in autumn 2021 but his time as a CNC Machine Operator for Scott Aerospace was short-lived, as the company had other plans for him.

“As preparation for my End Point assessment, they set up a project for me to get involved with and after I qualified, they made me a full-time Production Manager,” he explains.

But what next for the level-headed 21-year-old?

“I want to stay where I am for a while and progress with the company, but ultimately I may look at further study and a degree, perhaps in management or in mechanical engineering,” he says.

"I'm so glad though that my start in this industry was through an apprenticeship; it gives you such a solid grounding in everything. Plus, I was earning as I was learning – which was a major bonus!"

James’ aero industry career soars – thanks to an apprenticeship