A 20-year-old Airbus apprentice has credited her apprenticeship for empowering her to smash stereotypes and build a successful career in the industry.
Rosie Boddy, an Aero Systems Craft apprentice at Airbus, is now advocating for more women to consider a career in STEM subjects like aerospace engineering after her four-year training.
Her love for aerospace came from her grandfather, who was a design engineer apprentice for Hawker Siddeley and then British Aerospace.
She’s now eager to inspire others to follow their career passions through apprenticeship opportunities in engineering, after moving from Farnborough, known as the home of aerospace, to Wales to join Airbus.
Rosie said: “My grandad’s passion for aircraft rubbed off on me from an early age. I grew up at the home of aviation and spent much of my weekends going to air shows and discovering the engineering side of the industry.
“I went on to study aeronautical engineering at college and absolutely loved my time there, so I began to look at my next steps.
“I knew that Airbus in Flintshire is one of the best places to work in the industry, so when I saw the apprenticeship opportunity come up, I made the big decision to move to Wales and my apprenticeship journey began!”
Rosie, now in her fourth and final year based on the site, has especially benefited from the hands-on learning during her apprenticeship.
She added: “I’ve absolutely loved the practical side of my course and getting stuck in with my hands. It’s been particularly helpful to put the theory I learned at college into practise by working with the plane parts in real life.
“I’ve found each skill I’ve learned during my apprenticeship rotations to be transferable, with time management and learning to work under pressure being skills that I’ve carried across my four years in the production environment.”
Rosie also found her experience working under pressure useful when competing in the WorldSkills UK National Finals last November, where she came away with a Gold medal in the Aircraft Maintenance category.
WorldSkills UK sees competitors from all four nations compete against one another in their chosen skill category to achieve national recognition.
She said: “Competing at WorldSkills UK made me realise just how many skills I had developed, but it also helped me build my knowledge base and expand my horizons.
“When I won Gold, my family and employer were so proud of me, and it just boosted my confidence in my apprenticeship even further. It just goes to show how invaluable my apprenticeship experience has been, with me now being the best in the UK at my skill!”
While Rosie’s grandad’s apprenticeship was a big reason for her choosing a similar path, it wasn’t her only plan.
She continued: “When leaving college, I had to really weigh up the benefits of going to university versus choosing an apprenticeship.
“After careful deliberation, I chose to do an apprenticeship and have never looked back. In engineering, especially, apprenticeships are a great way to break into the industry and develop quickly due to the hands-on nature of the job.
“My apprenticeship has helped me get ahead in my career and learn from the many different talented people in the industry who work around me.”
Rosie is also a big advocate for getting more women into male-dominated industries like aeronautical engineering and believes the balance is beginning to shift.
She said: “While aeronautical engineering is often perceived as a very male-dominated industry, the gender split and stigma around women in STEM is nowhere near as bad as it was when my grandad was doing his apprenticeship.
“I’ve been so grateful that during my apprenticeship at Airbus, women working within the company is commonplace that I haven’t even needed to think about it. This is how it should be, in my opinion.”
Rosie’s sights are now set high, with her also considering a future degree in aerospace engineering, all thanks to the passion she has developed for the subject during her apprenticeship.
She continued: “I’m so grateful for my apprenticeship experience and all it has taught me. Now that it’s coming to an end, I feel experienced and ready to enter the working world as a qualified systems fitter on the Airbus shop floor.
“If I were to give one piece of advice to young women looking to get into aeronautical engineering, it would be don’t let the thought of it being a man’s field discourage you, because that is definitely not the case. There is nothing stopping you, just follow your passion and dedication to the industry and you’ll be sure to succeed.”
Economy Minister Vaughan Gething said: “Skills and qualifications are the biggest single influence on a person’s chance of being in employment, and on them earning a good income and offering a route out of poverty and protection against it. Apprenticeships can help futureproof, motivate and diversify a workforce – offering people the chance to gain high-quality vocational skills. They are also crucial to our ambitious vision for a Wales where no one is held back.
“Apprenticeships are a genius decision, for both employers seeking to future-proof their workforces and nurture the talent that exists within Wales, and Rosie is a great example of how apprenticeships can help you progress your career and develop your skills at any time of your life.”
If you, like Rosie, want to see what’s out there in the world of apprenticeships, there is a wide range of options open to you.
Apprenticeship Week Wales is a great way to discover some of those that are on offer, so you can not only find a career you love but go on to build your skills in it.
For more information about becoming an apprentice, visit www.gov.wales/apprenticeships-genius-decision or call 0800 028 4844.