Apprenticeship Degrees Blair Gilmour

A problem solving apprentice

When joining BAE Naval Ships in 2015 in the role of Combat Systems Higher Apprentice based in Scotstoun, Glasgow, a fresh-face enthusiastic 16-year-old Blair Gilmour could not have planned for the opportunities that would come his way.

During the third year of his Higher Apprenticeship, Blair was approached by the RCB2 Chief Engineer, to coordinate a ship-wide Aviation Harbour Acceptance Trial, called the Pre-Hat (Air), which is the first stage of acceptance towards landing an aircraft on the ship. Historically this trial had been unsuccessful so and become a point of contention with the customer, which understandably BAE were keen to resolve.

Blair grasped the opportunity to build a variety of skills that are not typically covered by an Apprentice, including managing large teams and interacting directly with the customer and he credits the relationship with the customer and the authority on what the expectation was that helped smooth the process.

But in Blair’s more than capable hands, the first Pre-HAT (Air) that he conducted was a major success. So much so, that it was recognised as the most successful Pre-Hat (Air) Trial the Aviation Authority had ever certified. What an accomplishment for someone who was only reaching their 20’s.

Subsequently, and unsurprisingly, Blair was requested by the Programme Director, & Naval Ships Managing Director, to remain as Pre-Hat (Air) Trial Coordinator for future ships and has since completed two further trials successfully.

Drive to Develop

I always knew I wanted a degree and to do it through the company. I had a five-year plan when I finished my Higher Apprenticeship and aimed to have a degree by the time I was 25. So when I found out about the Graduate Apprenticeship, it just ticked all the boxes


Blair certainly kept the pressure on his Apprentice Manager as he approached the end of his HND in Computing & Networking. His aspirations were fixed on getting onto a Graduate Apprenticeship so that he could continue on his well-planned out career path. His proactive approach ensured that as soon as he completed his Higher Apprenticeship, he was poised and prepared to get his GA application submitted.

Now in the role of Combat Systems Engineer, Blair is continuing his studies at Strathclyde having embarked on the four-year Engineering: Design & Manufacture (EDM) GA programme in September 2020 and this was always part of his grand development plan.

Much to his delight, the four colleagues Blair completed his HND alongside have also all progressed onto the Strathclyde EDM GA so they are keeping the ‘gang’ together and acting as a great support network for each other.

There is no doubt that Blair’s drive, commitment and infectious enthusiasm are what will carry him through his studies and who knows what will come next – but one thing is certain, there will be no stopping him!

Recognition of achievement

Blair is no stranger to recognition as a result of his hard work and dedication. In September 2020, he was shortlisted for prestigious Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) Apprentice of the Year award.

In 2019 he was awarded Higher Apprentice of the Year for BAE Glasgow as well as being nominated as a finalist for BAE Systems UK Higher Apprentice of the Year 2019. But Blair remains modest about his achievements and clearly focussed on his next step.

‘Once I get the degree under the belt, that will be nine years working and a degree and I think that puts me in a really good position’

Programmes designed for industry by industry

The strong tripartite relationship between an employer, the learner and the University is the key to the success of work based Graduate Apprenticeship degrees and Strathclyde are committed to delivering a high quality experience for all employer partners.

Through engagement events and discussions, employers have shaped the apprenticeship degrees we deliver at Strathclyde.

Strathclyde’s Engineering: Design & Manufacture GA Degree

The Graduate Apprenticeship Engineering: Design and Manufacture (EDM) degree develops professionally qualified engineers eligible for IEng level membership. Graduate Apprentices acquire underpinning knowledge and understanding via a blended and online learning delivery mode with core engineering competencies (UK Standards for Professional Engineering Competence, IEng) being developed through an integrated work based learning curriculum.

Learning in the workplace

Blair, like all Graduate Apprentice, is supported throughout his studies by a dedicated Work Based Learning Advisor who meets with him learner on a regular basis to monitor their progress on the programme and support the development of their e-portfolio of work based learning evidence and claims of competence.

Through our approach, Work Based Learning is not designed to be additional workplace tasks, but acts as integral part of the degree programme.

Skills for the future

Graduate Apprenticeships are an opportunity for organisations to not only broaden the talent pool by recruiting new staff into their business but also to develop existing employees. Employers can nominate individuals who are in a suitable job role which will enable them to complete the work based learning elements of the programme.

Flexible delivery model

Strathclyde Graduate Apprentices have access to our award-winning digital platform and will complete over 75% of their learning via our Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), Myplace. In addition, Graduate Apprentices also attend on campus days typically one day per month for the duration of their studies. These on campus sessions allow for the face-to-face delivery of teaching and other activities whilst also allowing Graduate Apprentices to interact with their tutors and network with their peers.

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Graduate Apprenticeships are funded by Skills Development Scotland

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