Apprentices set new top marks in Marshall bread bin exercise

Apprentices set new top marks in Marshall bread bin exercise

Elliot Smith and Ross Lewis have made Marshall history by creating the two highest-scoring “bread bins” in memory.

Formally known as the “Curved Repair Assembly,” the bread bin is a daunting milestone in every Marshall apprenticeship, and is as valuable as it is demanding. For better or worse, it tends to be an experience that remains etched in the memories of every Marshall apprentice for years to follow.

As the culmination of the entire first year of training, the bread bin exercise tests all the hand skills an apprentice has learned over the previous six or seven months, including filing, guillotine, drilling, and using an array of different tools including rivet guns. Apprentices must work on a curved surface, which is valuable as it faithfully reflects the challenges of working on an aircraft fuselage, but also adds a further degree of complexity to the exercise.

Importantly, the exercise is conducted with no help from instructors, making it a vital test of independent thinking. In addition to technical knowhow, apprentices must carefully apply their own instincts and judgment: they must identify, for example, whether the wrong rivets have been used, and adapt swiftly to fix any issues that inevitably arise.

Finished bread bins are mainly marked on neatness and accuracy, so even a small scratch results in marks being subtracted. Ross and Elliot both said this was the most challenging part of the project, given the difficulty of maintaining a smooth surface while also trying to recall and apply so many months of learning.

In this context, the results achieved by our record-setting first years this year are truly remarkable: Ross scored 99%, with Elliot an extremely close second with 98.5%. Both of these marks are the highest achieved in the apprenticeship’s history.

Elliot’s journey began when a friend working at Marshall Land Systems recommended he apply for an apprenticeship. Ross also knew a lot of people working at Marshall, and recognised it as a well-known company in Cambridge and a great place to work, so he wanted to be a part of the team.

The pair say that, while the workshop environment is enjoyable and relaxed, they have learnt a great deal about the industry and using hand skills. Elliot adds, “This has been the best few months I’ve ever had in terms of learning.”

The first-year workshop stage serves as an introduction to the responsibilities, routines and soft skills encountered every day in working life. Since apprenticeships are effectively first jobs in most cases, this kind of personal development is every bit as important as picking up technical skills.

Both Ross and Elliot are both very excited to move on to the second year of their apprenticeship, which will bring a host of new challenges such as changing, servicing and testing components.

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