BAE Systems PLC

We’ve worked with BAE Systems for over thirteen years to help their apprentices become dynamic, effective employees. The programme takes place during the first six weeks of their apprenticeship and focuses on building their self-awareness, self-confidence, self-management and skills in working with others, from communication to leadership. It also aims to enhance their understanding of BAE Systems’ values and ethical principles.

In 2012, 219 apprentices attended a five-day Outward Bound programme. Six months afterwards, training staff, line managers and apprentices completed an online survey regarding the programme. 150 apprentices and 14 staff (who we refer to as ‘observers’) completed the survey.

The evaluation showed that the programme is regarded as a highly positive experience that helps prepare apprentices for the many requirements of their apprenticeship. It develops their capacity for independent learning, collaborative working and self-management, and gives them a deeper understanding of the organisation’s values and ethical principles. When asked “What was the most useful part of the Outward Bound programme?”, 84% of apprentices clearly described the opportunity to develop skills in working with others, from getting to know new people and developing strong personal relationships, to learning to communicate openly, to consider, respect and trust others, and to be patient towards others.

The programme also appears to have had a positive effect on the apprentices’ behaviour at work, in particular in relation to safety and attendance.

Key highlights from the evaluation included

  • 93% of apprentices and 100% of observers agreed that the programme had developed the apprentices’ skills in working with others
  • 94% of apprentices and 89% of observers agreed that the programme had given the apprentices a better understanding of why it is important to be motivated and committed at college and/or work
  • 87% of apprentices and 94% of observers agreed that the programme had developed the apprentices’ skills in self-management.
There seems to be a link between the skills and attitudes developed on The Outward Bound Trust’s programme and the behaviours of our apprentices demonstrated in the workplace. The course has enabled these groups of apprentices to have an enhanced sense of responsibility and this has been reflected in an improved safety record and also on our overall rates of absenteeism. Safety awareness has stopped being a ‘tick box’ procedural chore and become a very real thing. Ted Creighton, Head of Learning and Development, BAE Systems