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BAE Naval Ships Graduate Apprentice Craig sailing through engineering career

Apprenticeships Work-based learning Graduate apprenticeships

A Graduate Apprenticeship has enabled a Lanarkshire engineer to climb the career ladder in shipbuilding and get a degree at the same time.

Craig Stark, 26 from Wishaw, is a role model for aspiring apprentices, having advanced his skills and qualifications through two apprenticeships with BAE Naval Ships.

Progression through apprenticeships

After leaving Clyde Valley High School Craig did his Modern Apprenticeship with BAE Systems Naval Ships for four years. He wanted to do further study, so he applied  for the Graduate Apprenticeship in Engineering: Design and Manufacture (EDM) with the BAE Systems Naval Ships and the University of Strathclyde.

Craig said: “In my eight years with the BAE Systems Naval Ships, I've gone from apprentice to designer to senior designer to principal designer. Both my apprenticeships have supported that movement up through the business. I don't think I would have been so successful if I hadn't taken the apprenticeships.”

Graduate Apprentice Of The Year Craig Stark 2

BAE Systems Naval Ships has about 3,500 employees in Scotland, and around 300 apprentices.

BAE Systems Apprentice and Skills Development Leader Marie Brennan said: “About 10 per cent of the workforce are in some form of apprenticeship, whether that be a welder or electrician, right through to Graduate Apprentices. We currently have 84 Graduate Apprentices across two programmes - Engineering Design and Manufacture, and Business Management.”

Graduate Apprenticeships are a way to get qualified up to Master’s degree level while in paid employment.

Designed by education and employers, Graduate Apprenticeships are offered in key sectors that need highly skilled employees.

Learning and building networks

Craig said: “The biggest benefit for me with the Graduate Apprenticeship was the work- based learning side. This drives you to expand your knowledge and you pick up things you might not do if you weren't on the job.”

Added Craig: “My apprenticeships have given me a lot more connections in the business through speaking to new people.

“The biggest benefit of an apprenticeship is being able to work learn and earn. An apprenticeship gives you that balance between work and education so you're continuing to develop yourself and your theoretical knowledge. I tell people that an apprenticeship can give you a solid foundation to make a career for yourself.”

Craig’s achievements at BAE have led him to be a finalist in the Graduate Apprentice of the Year category sponsored by Morrison Construction at the Scottish Apprenticeship Awards.

Craig said: “I'm happy to be a finalist in the Graduate Apprenticeship category at the Scottish Apprenticeship Awards. It's always good to get recognition for the hard work you put in.”

Apprenticeships integral to BAE

BAE Systems Naval Ships has had a long-term commitment to apprenticeships, realising the benefits they bring to apprentices and the business.

Marie said: “Apprenticeships are an integral part of our company, they're part of the fabric. When I look at our senior management, I would say many started their careers as an apprentice so understand the benefits of learning on the job bring.

“Apprenticeships have always been valued because they attract new talent into the business and develop people. It's not just the apprentice's technical ability that is developed, but also their understanding of what the company stands for.”

University of Strathclyde Graduate Apprentice EDM Programme Leader Susanne Boyle explained the support offered to employers such as BAE Systems Naval Ships. She said: “We have quarterly employer forums for all the businesses that offer Graduate Apprenticeships. Partnership working makes the apprenticeship better value for everyone involved.”

University of Strathclyde Academic Mentor for the Graduate Apprentice programme Susan Walker said: “I worked with Craig directly during his Graduate Apprenticeship. He always had the goal of Incorporated Engineer recognition through work-based knowledge and skills development as well as a top class degree and he did this through his Graduate Apprenticeship.”

Marie added: “Craig joined us straight out of school and he has always been conscientious and applied himself to every task allowing him to increase his capability. Through the years in his apprenticeships he has developed and grown in confidence and technical knowledge.”

Scottish Apprenticeship Awards

The winner of the Graduate Apprentice category sponsored by Morrison Construction was revealed at the Scottish Apprenticeship Awards, organised by Skills Development Scotland. Find out more about the event by visiting