The Sunday Telegraph - Sunday
I still had fun. I don’t feel like I missed out
A degree in engineering management, via an apprenticeship at BAE Systems
Now 24, Billie Sequeira did her technical apprenticeship with BAE Systems, which resulted in her getting a Higher National Certificate (HNC) in Electrical and Electronic Engineering.
Having studied sciences and maths at sixth form, she had always planned to go to university. “It was the only next step I’d ever considered or been told about,” she says.
But after attending an open day at BAE Systems Rochester she felt attracted to the apprenticeship path.
“It was simply a question of, ‘Do I want to get into all this debt, when I’m not even sure what I want to do in the future?’”
Despite being a bright student on course to go to university, she says that as soon as she chose the apprenticeship route, her school forgot about her. “It was because I wasn’t part of the university cohort,” she says. “I think even my school thought university was the only option; that you had to have a degree to be successful.”
Six years on, she thinks that attitude is finally changing. “My youngest sister is still at school and now they are talking about other options. I was on that cusp when people were just starting to talk about training schemes and apprenticeships.”
While there were the odd pangs of jealousy that she wasn’t going out every night like her school friends who had gone to university, she and the other apprentices at BAE established their own social life. “We’d go clubbing every Friday after work. I still had fun. I don’t feel like I missed out.”
And following her apprenticeship Sequeira consequently decided to move on to a part-time degree in engineering management (BEng), which is funded by BAE Systems.
“For me it’s the best of both worlds. I was offered the chance to study a university course without having to pay for it, and I jumped at the chance.”
Not because she felt like she needed it to excel in her role at work, though: “It was just something I wanted to do for myself. I love learning. And I’m really enjoying it.”