100 Years and Counting with Dave Roberts

Celebrating 100 years of Apprenticeships with David Roberts

David Roberts did not initially set out to work in aerospace, instead he started his career as an apprentice wireman and built looms for the motorsport industry but after he was made redundant, he had to find another job. A friend suggested that they attend a career fair at the Corn Exchange in Cambridge, where he happened to speak to a Marshall representative who told him about the adult training programme. With the deadline for applications just days away, David managed to get his foot in the door just in time and joined Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group (MADG) as an adult trainee in April 2009.

At age 21, David was one of the youngest people in his cohort (the oldest was 40) and there was a great mix of diversity in the trainees’ backgrounds, which made the group an interesting bunch of people to collaborate with. As some of his previous training was transferable, David only had to complete the aerospace specific modules and found the move into the aerospace industry most enjoyable. David worked hard to gain his qualification and learned a lot from the amazing trainers and supervisors who invested so much of their time to develop his skills.

After he qualified, David was chosen to be part of the Core Working Party (CWP), who had the opportunity to travel (often at the drop of a hat) to other countries and military bases to fix different aircraft. He recalled a day when his supervisor approached him at 10:00am one morning to see if he had a company driving licence. David confirmed that he did and the supervisor instructed him to drive to the Netherlands to work on a wiring job for the Dutch Airforce who needed Marshall’s expertise and tooling to repair a plane that was due to be used for training in Africa. Within hours, David was at the Ferry port in Dover waiting to cross over to Europe.  

In 2015, there was a quiet period in the hangars in Cambridge, so MADG ensured that their people were deployed elsewhere. The team were sent to RAF Marham in King’s Lynn for six months to work on the Tornado fighter jet. David was chosen to be a team leader and he had a great time learning to work on another type of aircraft.

David is now an Electrical/Avionics-Technician working on major maintenance projects where aircraft are completely stripped down and put back together again. David has a team of four and two of them are apprentices with Marshall Centre. His team do all the work and David is responsible for quality checking and signing off the paperwork. David feels proud that he can now pass on the knowledge and experience he gained throughout his time as a trainee, with the CWP, RAF Marham and now as a technician to the next generation of talent. David feels like he has come full circle and is grateful for the opportunities he has received because of the chance meeting at the careers fair that led to the adult training programme with Marshall Cambridge.     

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