Meet the Marshall Apprentices Inspired to Pursue a Career in Aviation by the RAF Air Cadets

Meet the Marshall Apprentices Inspired to Pursue a Career in Aviation by the RAF Air Cadets

The Royal Air Force Air Cadets have long been a natural feeder for our world-class apprenticeship programme with several apprentices joining Marshall because of the activities they took part in through the Cadets.

To help us celebrate National Apprenticeship Week, we caught up with a few of our apprentices, and one of our learning facilitators, who learned vital life skills, experienced extraordinary opportunities, and were inspired to follow a career in aerospace with Marshall because of their time spent with the RAF Air Cadets.

Oscar Gould – Aerospace Fitter Apprentice (2022)

Oscar joined the RAF Air Cadets in 2016 when he was 12 years old and remained an active member until he was 18, reaching the rank of Flight Sargent. Oscar was always interested in aviation and flying but was mainly inspired to join the Cadets because his father often told stories of the exciting activities he took part in when he was a member. Oscar took up flying gliders while at the Cadets and still enjoys this as a hobby today. Although Oscar loves flying, the Cadets were instrumental in opening his eyes to the broader opportunities to work in aviation including the maintenance side. He gained many life skills during his time with the Cadets including how to behave in a work environment, taking responsibility, being resilient and showing respect. Oscar said, “If I didn’t join the Cadets, I wouldn’t have had the invaluable exposure to the wider aviation world, I wouldn’t have thought about what goes on behind the scenes to keep aircraft flying safely and probably wouldn’t have ended up working at Marshall, so I am grateful for my time there.”

Christopher Green – Aerospace Fitter Apprentice (2022)

Chris joined the Air Cadets in 2015 and was with them for five years before he aged out. He attained the highest possible rank of Cadet One Officer, which remains a proud achievement. Chris said that he joined because a friend invited him along and he enjoyed it so much that he was inspired to pursue a career in the military. However, when he found out that was not an option, he knew that the next best pathway would be to take a hands-on approach to working along-side the forces by maintaining military aircraft at Marshall. When asked if any of his experiences at the Cadets helped to prepare him for his current role, Chris said, “There is a big focus on the air side of things; we learned about the theory of flight, which is very relevant to what I am doing now. I entered the RAF 100 Engineering Competition and came second, so I gained a fair amount of engineering experience from that as well as some hands-on experience with the RAF engineering personal. I also successfully completed the Qualified Aerospace Instructor course, which included more theory of flight and aerodynamics.” Chris is grateful for the time with the Air Cadets and the opportunities he was exposed to. He said, “I thoroughly enjoyed everything I did with the Air Cadets and would recommend it to anyone who is interested in aviation.”

Tyler Bell - Aerospace Fitter Apprentice (2022)

Tyler was surrounded by friends and family who were active members of the Air Cadets so he joined as soon as he could at 13 years old and was a member for three years before leaving to focus on his studies. Tyler had the opportunity to visit Marshall on a tour arranged through the Cadets and he was amazed to see how vast the company was and all the exciting projects our teams get to work on, which was a major influence on his decision to pursue a Marshall apprenticeship. When asked about some of the things he learned at Air Cadets, Tyler said, “I gained many life-skills through the activities we did. We did loads of team building activities as well as learning practical skills like knot tying, which has come in handy with the electrical hand-skills we learn on the apprenticeship. Everything we do at Marshall requires the ability to work well as a team, so I am pleased that I did so much of that at Cadets.”

Christian Simmonett - Aerospace Fitter Apprentice (2022)

Christian remembers seeing a Remembrance Day Parade and was curious about the young people in uniform. He did some research online, found out that they were RAF Air Cadets and decided that he would like to join particularly because they had the opportunity to go flying. Although Christian did not know anyone in the Cadets Squadron, he found it easy to fit in. He said, “It wasn’t intimidating because we were all into the same things and the instructors were friendly. Everyone was welcoming and because it was in Cambridge, we all kind of knew the same people anyway.”

Unfortunately, Christain’s time at the Cadets was cut short due to Covid having joined in 2018, he only had two years with the Air Cadets before everything closed in 2020. However, he managed to pack many great experiences into his short time with them. One experience that influenced his career aspirations was a tour of Marshall by two of the civilian instructors who happened to work there. Christian said, “One of those civilian instructors was Zac Gibbs and he is now one of my trainers in the apprentice workshop, so it was nice that I knew him from my time at the Cadets. I think it helped that so many of the civilian instructors worked at Marshall, because I found out what it was like to work here before I thought about applying for the apprenticeship. It gave me an advantage because I knew a lot about Marshall in my interview, so it was clear that I did my research.”

Alex Norton – Aerospace Fitter Apprentice (2019)

Alex was inspired to join the Air Cadets by his father who encouraged him to do something productive with his time outside of school. He joined in 2014 at 12 years old and is still actively involved as a civilian instructor inspiring the next generation to learn about careers in aviation. Alex took full advantage of all the exciting opportunities the Air Cadets offer like flying in different aircraft, learning to shoot, practicing field craft and he even attained a BTEC in Aviation Studies. During his time at the Cadets, Alex rose through the ranks and was proud to become a Flight Sargent when he turned 20. He then became an adult member of staff as a Sargent Civilian Instructor and is currently one of Marshall’s most active members of the Air Cadets. Alex said, “The Cadets definitely inspired me to follow a career in aviation; I met so many different people who taught me about the industry and those are connections I still value.” Alex developed many life skills such leadership, teamwork and communication. He said, “Many young people don’t know how to communicate verbally now days as they spend so much time texting, but with the Cadets, you are always out speaking to people, so it develops your confidence in communicating with people at all levels.”

Nicola Turner – Learning Facilitator (Marshall Skills Academy)

Nicola Turner joined the Air Cadets when she was 13 years old and remained a member for four years before becoming a member of staff at 1824 (Saffron Walden) Squadron. Nicola helped to organise and run aerospace camps for Cadets who were interested in careers in aviation to give them broad exposure to the industry. Nicola started her career at Marshall because of her connection to the business through the Air Cadets where she was given the opportunity to fly in one of the C130 Hercules aircraft that Marshall maintained in its hangars.

Nicola said that she developed her skills as a trainer delivering first aid training to the Cadets and this is still something that she delivers at Marshall. She was also a Duke of Edinburgh Award assessor and instructor, she said, “I used to take the cadets camping and did life skills training with them.” She continued joking, “Some of them were better than others at navigation, but it allowed me to travel around the country to different aerospace companies and air bases to inspire the cadets to pursue aviation careers.” Nicola now enjoys being part of the team who train the apprentices and it always makes her proud to see former Cadets join the industry.