Liam Perry (18) – pictured
Alamin Hussain (25)
An RAF apprenticeship offers much more than ‘basic training’. In fact, its mix of theory and hands-on, practical learning is a springboard to new opportunity, say two engineering apprentices.
Aircraftman Alamin Hussain, 25, and Aircraftman Liam Perry, 18, joined the RAF last year on a Vehicle and Mechanical Equipment Technician Apprenticeship course, carrying out repairs and adjustments on a range of land-based vehicles and mechanical equipment.
Why did you choose an RAF apprenticeship?
Alamin: I have a degree in engineering but couldn’t get a job as a civilian mechanical engineer because I didn’t have any practical experience to back it up. I knew I’d get that in the RAF.
Liam: Previously I was at sixth form studying courses I wasn’t really interested in. I applied to the RAF because I’ve always wanted to learn a trade — a hands-on job, not an office job.
Describe your apprenticeship journey
Alamin: I went to the RAF careers office, found out more about the apprenticeship and applied from there. I had two or three interviews and completed a short test to make sure I’d be the right fit for the role.
I joined the RAF in August 2018, completed basic training and started the course in November. There’s a lot of theory in the first few months. Then we go to the workshop where there’s more practical work.
Why does this type of learning suit you?
Liam: I’m a hands-on learner. I prefer getting my sleeves rolled up rather than watching PowerPoint presentations. I didn’t concentrate that much at school, but here it’s different. As soon as I started doing mechanical work, things just clicked.
The most valuable thing I’ve learnt is how to repair vehicles, which is a good life skill to have, as well as a career skill. There’s also been a lot of theory, which will help me if I decide to go onto further education after my apprenticeship, such as a degree, for example.
What’s the biggest myth about apprenticeships?
Alamin: That an apprenticeship only teaches you the basics. I’ve been surprised by the high level of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) theory we’ve been taught and the range of topics we cover. In fact, it’s been similar to the topics I covered in the first year or so of my degree.
Liam: I thought an apprenticeship was entirely hands-on and that there would be no theory and no exams. Actually, it’s a good mix of both.
What will you do with your apprenticeship?
Alamin: I’m hoping that, with my degree, it will be a springboard to becoming a commissioned officer.
Liam: I just want to become better at my job, hopefully get a degree and, after I’ve left the RAF in years to come, maybe open my own business.