We live in a region which is a key centre for advanced engineering employers and notably some of the largest in the aerospace industry.

According to the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), our Aerospace and Advanced Engineering industry is the fourth largest employment sector in the sub-region with the greatest areas of employment in production, works and maintenance managers; mechanical engineers; metal working production; maintenance fitters; and electronics, civil and composite engineers.

In the West of England, this sector as a whole also has some particular specialisms above the national average including: the manufacture of air and spacecraft and related machinery; repair of electrical equipment; manufacture of other machine tools; research and experimental development of biotechnology; manufacture of metal forming machinery; and the advancements of additive layer manufacturing.

For this week’s focus on careers, we spoke to Natasha Dawes who is the HR Training Advisor at GKN Aerospace in Filton, South Gloucestershire. The GKN apprenticeship vacancies are live on 1st November.

Who are GKN Aerospace?

GKN Aerospace is the world’s leading multi-technology tier 1 aerospace supplier. With 55 manufacturing locations in 14 countries, GKN Aerospace serve over 90% of the world’s aircraft and engine manufacturers. They design and manufacture innovative smart aerospace systems and components. And their technologies are used in aircraft ranging from the most used single aisle aircraft and the largest passenger planes in the world to business jets and the world’s advanced 5th generation fighter aircraft.

This year, GKN recruited 30 apprentices on Advanced Apprenticeships into Bristol alone.

Joining GKN you can expect a rotation around most departments – including carbon fibre at Western Approach, metallics at Filton and even the Finance department. This variety adds considerably to a new recruit’s understanding of how the company works.

Recruitment considerations?

“At GKN, we’re looking for people who adapt and seize opportunities, who stretch themselves to be better in everything that they do, who take care of one another and look after our customers, and who always do the right thing and own up if they make a mistake” says Natasha.

“Specifically, we’re looking to see that applicants have done something to develop themselves as a person and acted out of your comfort zone.”

“We also want them to have a CV that stands out and ideally want to see applicants in person at interview. We receive over 500 applications each year and if the basics aren’t right – spelling, punctuation and/or grammar – we won’t even begin to consider an application.”

Timeline for applications

There is an annual cycle to recruitment at GKN and, for applicants, this starts in November when the apprenticeship vacancies are first advertised.

It is followed in early February by an open evening at GKN for potential applicants and then the vacancies close at the end of the month.

During March there are psychometric tests for applicants and interviews in April.

“Assuming all goes to plan,” says Natasha, “we should be in a position to then make conditional job offers in May based on the expected exam results in August.”

What kind of recruitment tests are there?

It is common to test applicants and at GKN these tests include level 3 mock reasoning plus Maths and English Language to determine that applicants are actually of GCSE standard and ensure they do not struggle when they actually start on the college part of the apprenticeship training.

For those applying for the higher apprenticeships, the tests are online. Whilst those applying for level 3 vacancies complete the tests at Weston College where the apprenticeship training takes place. They also get a tour of the college on the day.

And what about the interview stage?

If successful in getting to interview, applicants are invited to bring along a practical example of something they have actually made.

The interviews are then competency-based which means they are designed to demonstrate an applicant’s strengths and are linked directly to the skills that are likely to be needed in the role being advertised. To prepare in advance, why not take a look online at some competency-based questions – they’re not specific to engineering so this should be straightforward to do. And why not try and arrange mock interview practice with an older relative or with a teacher? Some schools also have mock interviews with employers which can be highly effective.

There is then a group activity where applicants work together. These are time-restricted and help to demonstrate who amongst the applicants are natural leaders and if there is anyone disruptive. They are highly effective exercises.

How many female applicants do you typically see?

“There’s still a long way to go and we’d definitely like to encourage a lot more girls to pursue their interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics by applying for engineering positions, especially with us at GKN Aerospace” says Natasha. “We are fortunate in having recruited female apprentices for this autumn, but could potentially hire a lot more if there were more feeling confident to apply in the first place.”

Thank you Natasha and GKN Aerospace. @GKN_plc

Careersnearhere.com: It’s Your Future – Let’s Get It Started

We signpost direct to local talks, events, open days and experiences based on your choice of career sector and help you get something really relevant on your CV and personal statement. We also show you a local choice of academic and apprenticeships – including the GKN Aerospace vacancies on 1st November.

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