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“I moved to Cumbria for an apprenticeship... now I’m part of the community” – National Apprenticeship Week: Euan’s Story

Euan Gilfillan’s new life in Barrow is a world away from where he grew up in Hertfordshire. It was a big decision to make the move to Cumbria for an apprenticeship opportunity with BAE Systems – but one he’d make again!

The 21-year-old is currently in the midst of his 5-year apprenticeship programme, which sees him working at the same time as gaining an engineering degree.

It was a no-brainer for Euan, who says his family and friends were supportive of him re-locating, as they realised what a fantastic opportunity it was to join the globally-renowned organisation.

“It took some adjusting, but the distance from home doesn’t really bother me. Being 200 miles away from your friends is not dissimilar to being 20 miles away – you’ve just got to make the effort to see each other. My dad was involved in engineering and he knew what a brilliant opportunity his was when I got it,” says Euan.

He’s got stuck into his role in the submarine division, which sees him experience different aspects of the organisation on a six-month rotation. Euan had originally thought of going to university to do a mechanical engineering degree. As an apprentice at BAE Systems, he’ll get the same outcome, but have a rich experience of working life.

But life’s not all about work! A big draw for Euan was the outdoor lifestyle Cumbria can offer, from hiking in the Cumbrian hills, to paddleboarding the lakes on summer days. Since making the move, he’s integrated himself with the community, volunteering as a beaver scout leader.

He added: “I’ve made some really great friends through scouting and we go out walking. It’s been such a highlight getting out and about in nature and meeting new people.

“Anyone considering something similar I’d say go for it. Make an effort to get out and meet people and get involved in things going on locally. I’ve done that here and everyone has welcomed me with open arms – I feel like part of the community even though I only moved here in 2021.”

Barrow is something of an apprenticeship hotspot in Cumbria. The last full academic year (2021/22) saw 800 people start an apprenticeship in Barrow, the highest figure of Cumbria’s districts.

BAE Systems was a major contributor to that number, having significantly increased its workforce over the last decade, with apprenticeships a core part of recruiting and training the next generation of engineers.

As for Euan, he wants to excel in a career at the Barrow-based company. He adds:

“After I finish my scheme I'll hopefully spend a more years with BAE Systems in Barrow, building my experience and exploring more of Cumbria and the Lakes. Further into the future I'd love to spend some time working abroad before hopefully coming back to the North West to settle down."

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