Ace mathematician and TV celebrity Carol Vorderman flew in to Lancashire to help the careers of would-be engineers take off.
The Loose Women and Countdown star piloted her own aircraft, a Diamond DA 40 to Warton to launch BAE Systems’ new Engineering Higher Apprenticeship.
She had a tour of the Typhoon production line and spoke to young apprentices.
Carol, 53, said she had been “plane crazy” since she was a young girl and studied engineering at Cambridge University in the hope she could become a pilot. She is planning an ambitious solo round the world flight in 2015.
She said unfortunately the opportunities were not there then for women but she worked as an engineer before being signed up to present Countdown when Channel 4 launched in 1982.
She said: “It is fantastic having an engineering degree and one of those areas where good apprenticeships still exist.
“BAE Systems is amazing. To see this fantastically large company investing in apprenticeships and now at the highest level is wonderful. The best thing about aerospace is that if you love aircraft like I and these people here do, then you tend to find they stay in the industry. A lot of the top people here started off as apprentices.”
She said she would like to see more women engineers but felt that unless youngsters had engineering role models they might never think of a career in it. Andy Bloor, head of early careers at BAE Systems, said that the new Engineering Higher Apprenticeship was different to the current schemes they run as it was aimed at A-Level students.
The course is due to begin in 2015 and is set to be advertised later this year.
Andy said: “We have a Higher Apprenticeship in project management at the moment which is run together with Blackpool and The Fylde College and has been brilliantly successful. We want the same thing for our software and systems engineering.”
The three year scheme will offer the chance to get a foundation degree in engineering while earning and working on specific work placements. It could ultimately lead to a full engineering degree.
Apprentice Lucy Norris from Lytham, 21, said: “Carol was really interested in our apprenticeships and the opportunities we have in the company to progress. She also asked about the support we get and what qualifications we can achieve.”