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#NAW2021 Apprenticeship Case Study: Gary Shaw, Mechanical Analysis Engineer at GE Aviation


National Apprenticeship Week 2021

Gloucestershire College is a proud champion of apprenticeships. To celebrate National Apprenticeship Week 2021, we are showcasing success stories from our amazing apprentices and employers.

We caught up again with 24-year-old Gary Shaw, Mechanical Analysis Engineer, now he has successfully completed his degree apprenticeship. Gary was an apprentice as part of our Embedded Electronic Systems Design and Development Engineer Degree Apprenticeship here at Gloucestershire College.

We previously spoke to Gary in 2018 when he received an Engineering Horizons Bursary from the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) due to his work promoting engineering and apprenticeships. A real engineering star, Gary was recognised as Apprentice Champion for the South West of England in the National Apprenticeship Awards, and participated in many volunteering schemes such as Imagineering, Cheltenham Science Festival and Girls Get Set, which are all focused on inspiring the next generation of engineers.

Gary Shaw, Mechanical Analysis Engineer at GE Aviation

Tell us a bit about your background.

I studied A Level equivalents in Scotland and focused on physics, maths and chemistry, before completing an HNC in Mechanical Engineering and completing work experience at an aerospace manufacturing company. I had several different jobs before starting my apprenticeship, for example, in a bank, and found this gave me useful life and team working experience.

I have always been interested in how things work from a young age. At school I enjoyed studying science subjects and I think that’s when I knew I wanted to be an engineer. I always wanted to work in the aerospace sector as I love all things aviation.

Why did you choose to study an apprenticeship?

I had several offers from universities to study engineering, however, I recognised that sitting in a lecture hall all day was not my way of learning. I knew I was more hands on and, by completing an apprenticeship, I knew I would have the best of both worlds: I would earn my degree and have the chance to apply my learning in a real environment.

GE is one of the biggest companies in the world and involved in several different sectors, from aviation to renewable energy and healthcare. It has a great reputation worldwide and puts a lot of effort into developing its workforce.

After completing my five-year degree apprenticeship, I have a BEng (Hons) degree in electronic and computer engineering; a L6 apprenticeship certificate in aerospace engineering; an NVQ L4 in manufacturing engineering; and a L2 performing engineering operations qualification in aviation. I also gained EngTech status with the IET and am in the process of applying for Incorporated Engineer status.

Tell us a bit about your day job as an apprentice.

I spent one day a week studying and four days in work on my rotation. You spend six months on a rotation before changing to a new one, so you gain an understanding of the different sectors within the company (systems, software and hardware). I also completed many personal and professional development activities such as attending careers events, participating in mock interviews at a school, and working at air shows like RIAT and Farnborough.

How did your time as an apprentice influence your career?

Massively. The experience I gained meant getting a job at the end of my apprenticeship was much easier, even in the current climate. The skills I learned and network I built has made me the engineer I am today. I’m still young and have five years’ practical industry experience, which is a huge benefit and addition to my CV – it really sets me apart.

Why would you recommend others do an apprenticeship in engineering?

It’s a career full of opportunity. There are so many different engineering sectors and types of engineer; just because you start your career as one type, it doesn’t mean you have to spend your whole career in the same role or industry. The skills you learn are transferable and there will always be a need for engineers. An apprenticeship allows you to earn while you learn, with no student debt, which is a massive advantage, as is the invaluable industry experience.

How did you find the teaching, support and facilities at GC?

The support from the engineering department was excellent. The lecturers worked so hard and spent so much time with me in the early years to really help me solidify the foundations – I can’t thank them enough. The facilities were also good, with new equipment available during lab time.


Apply to become an apprentice with Gloucestershire College

If Gary’s experience has inspired you to start a career in engineering, you can apply for our apprenticeship programmes online today. Click on the links below to apply online through our website or get in touch with our friendly apprenticeship team with any questions by emailing:



Watch our NEW engineering showcase video here.


West of England Institute of Technology (WEIoT)

We're a proud partner of WEIoT – a government-funded programme bringing together key academic and employer partners across the region, enabling us to specialise in higher-level technical training in STEM subjects.

Find out more here.


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We have talented, prospective apprentices apply to us all year round. Our Business Hub team can help your organisation to recruit an apprentice and match you with new talent to grow your business. Explore our range of programmes and contact our team via: or call: 01452 563400 to get the ball rolling.


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