Robin Lipscombe started his career as an apprentice with Marshall in 1971. Following his time as a production planner helping to build full-size prototype vehicle bodies for the design office, he joined Keirron Mascall in the training centre to help deliver the now legendary apprenticeship programme.
When asked about what inspired him to follow a career in engineering, Robin said, “As a child, I was always interested in model making from kits, balsa gliders and scale replica models of military aircraft. So, when I joined Marshall, engineering craft practice was not entirely new to me and I was able to improve and build on my skills with the new array of tools and materials now at my disposal.”
Robin continued, “I remember the instructor using the expression MEASURE TWICE, CUT ONCE and this struck a chord!”
“This saying directly refers to the obvious matter of double-checking for error before committing to a course of action that cannot be undone. But indirectly, the meaning can be extended to any occupation (or action) that requires meticulous planning to assure success. This is what drives me to pass on the virtues of good preparation as the recipe for consistent outcomes – and naturally – not forgetting the importance of patience and perseverance!”
During his four-year apprenticeship in vehicle manufacturing, Robin gained great exposure to practical and technical engineering. After he completed the qualification, he pursued a path in production planning and worked with the Marshal design office to prototype and develop vehicle bodies to see if they met the required specification of the project. It was a process of trial and error built upon what he learnt as an apprentice and taught him the importance of patience in engineering processes that relied on learning from previous attempts for their success.
“Being a skilled, hands-on craftsperson in a variety of engineering crafts such as sheet metal work, assembly and welding, woodworking, pattern making and setting-out has enabled me to utilise this all-round ability to teach well over 1,000 people in a period spanning 40 years – I guess this is probably the one achievement I take the most pride in!”
When Robin was invited to join the workshop team as a learning facilitator, he jumped at the opportunity to pass on his knowledge and skills to the next generation. He describes his time in the role as very fulfilling and is the strongest reason why he has continued to teach apprentices for nearly half a century.
When asked to describe his role, Robin said, “I am involved in this crucial stage of the apprentices’ training, in the coaching of practical skills, so good habits are established early on by practice and repetition. This is the foundation stage which can last up to one year. On successful completion of this course, the apprentices then join the workforce to embark on remaining on-the-job stages over the three years of a typical four-year apprenticeship.”
Robin and Keirron Mascall worked together as a double act for many decades and had a reputation among the apprentices as being the good cop/bad cop of the workshop (although the alumni will not disclose who was who). The apprentices soon learned that they could not sneak substandard work past either of them and hence Marshall apprentices are among the most disciplined and skilled in the industry.
Robin’s time as a learning facilitator brought him incredible opportunities to help others develop their engineering skills. As a result of his commitment to his job and students, Robin supported a highly successful company initiative in the 1990s where he played the important role in re-skilling new employees for induction into the aerospace industry, a challenge he found very satisfying to be involved with, helping adults make the challenging move from one career path in engineering to another and improving their career prospects.
We asked Robin to describe his greatest achievement in his career today and he said:
“Looking back it was probably winning the 1973 City & Guilds National Award in Vehicle Building Craft Work when I was a third-year apprentice. The Medal was awarded for highest marks (in the UK) achieved in both theoretical and practical examinations.”
Robin is also a finalist in the Cambridgeshire Apprenticeship Awards for being an apprenticeship champion in the region.
Robin’s contribution towards the development of the next generation of aerospace engineers cannot be overstated or overlooked as his service to the industry, as well as Marshall, has allowed him to effectively develop thousands of engineering apprentices and provide them with the skills and experiences needed to kickstart their careers in engineering and aerospace. Many of the apprentices that Robin trained have gone on to become well respected, award-winning leaders in the global aerospace industry, therefore the positive impact that Robin has had on the industry is impossible to quantify and deserves celebrating with the highest accolades.
Marshall apprentice alumni are among the best in the business because of the world-class training they received from the likes of Robin Lipscombe. If you are a Marshall apprentice alumni and you would like to share your story or join the alumni community, please register your interest here.