And In The Beginning They Were … Apprentices. Or: An Exploration into Apprenticeships in Formula One.

Kid on computer

Even though testing is going on in Bahrain, I figured that this might be a better time than during the build-up to a race weekend to publish some insider material from Formula One. According to Apprenticeships.org.uk (part of HM Government’s ‘Skills Funding Agency’) there are some 22.000 apprenticeships available at any time in England. You need to be 16 years or older and not currently be in an educational programme. An apprenticeship is a true door opener as you get to learn a job while making some money; a win-win situation for employers and candidates alike.

Apprenticeships in Formula One

As with anything in Formula One, it is tremendously competitive to get in to an apprenticeship with a team. Most of the apprentice opportunities are in the manufacturing side of the business. Unfortunately Teams will only be looking at candidates with a college degree, but that is not to say that all is lost if you do not qualify for an apprenticeship in Formula One, but I will go in to some early career strategies further down. Typically Teams recruit candidates for their apprenticeship programmes directly from colleges or from a ‘Registered Training Agency’, which, unfortunately, RIMS is not one as of yet. Normally you would spend up to 3 years on fixed contracts in an apprenticeship before entering a fully skilled role. You would be placed in a host department and then would be rotated to different functions. As you can see apprenticeships are great opportunities to be exposed to and gain experiences in a variety of jobs. Hence, it is a good idea to set your aims at Teams and organisations that have a variety of departments and functions that you can rotate through.

Apart from the ‘hard’ skills, i.e. academic qualifications, Teams are looking for the usual ‘passion’ for the sport and a high level of mechanical aptitude in successful candidates. They would like to see candidates that have shown interest early. Hence if you are 12 years old and reading this blog I would, apart from wondering what the heck you are doing on the web, suggest you get to it and try to find mentors in the engineering and manufacturing sectors to spend time around the process. Of course you will not be able to operate machinery, but you get the idea, demonstrate REAL passion and drive.

Career strategy advice

I’ve said it many times before and I will continue to harp on it; find your entry-point! If F1 is your bulls eye and you have not been successful getting in, go to the next layer: suppliers of F1. Especially as an apprentice candidate you have a real incentive to offer the employer, remember the win-win from above? Make a list of 50 companies that supply F1 Teams with services and start calling and sending in your CV, it’s called networking and if you’ve read my previous articles you understand how important that is. Then you spend three to four years working with F1 parts and prove yourself; suddenly you are very attractive to a Team. If you do not have a degree from a college, you may have to start a little ‘further out’ and work your way in to your entry point, it will take a few more years, but at least you are on the right track.

I suggest you take a look at http://www.apprenticeships.org.uk/ as it has a wealth of information and positions available to research. Well, that is all for this time. I hope you got some useful insight and I wish you all the best in the pursuit of your dreams.

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