Engineering apprentice Alex Weston
Twenty-two- year-old Alex Weston is living every school boy’s dream repairing aircraft from the First and Second World Wars on an engineering apprenticeship at the Michael Beetham Conservation Centre at the RAF Museum Cosford.
Alex, who is in the final year of his four-year apprenticeship, combines working at the museum with studying for a NVQ Level 3 in fabrication and welding at the college’s Paget Road campus and recently showcased his skills in the finals of the sheet metalwork category of the WorldSkills UK competition – walking away with a prestigious silver medal.
Alex said: “The museum is a great place to work and it’s a really interesting apprenticeship as the projects we work on are so varied and the engineering methods involved are the traditional ones that would have been used when the aircraft were originally in service.
“Through an apprenticeship you get an education and qualifications while you’re getting paid as well as putting the skills you learn at college into practice back at work – it’s a really good combination.
“The tutor at the college is really knowledgeable, very supportive and happy to give any extra help that’s needed. And an assessor from the college visits me at work on a regular basis to observe my practical work, monitor what I’m learning and check I’m performing to the required standard.”
Commenting on his success in the WorldSkills UK competition, Alex added: “Taking part was a fantastic experience. I thought I’d done well but it was a very close competition and I was really shocked when it was announced that I’d won the silver medal. I’m really proud of my achievement – it made all the hard work and preparation worthwhile and will look great on my CV.”
After completing his apprenticeship Alex, whose skills have led to him working on conservation projects in the USA and Kuwait, as well as being part of the team that dismantled the historic Dornier 17 after it was lifted from the English Channel in June, hopes to gain a paid position as a technician and conservator at the museum.