AN AEROSPACE engineering company which has avoided putting any staff on furlough has seen demand for apprenticeships double this year.

As well as a 100 per cent rise in applications from would-be apprentices nationwide, Leonardo has seen applicants for graduate and industrial placements rise 39 per cent.

Graduates currently represent 5.9 per cent of Leonardo’s engineering workforce, exceeding the target of the national campaign The 5% Club, of which it is a member.

The company, which has around 400 staff based at First Avenue, Millbrook, is also seeking to grow its number of experienced engineers to work on long-term programmes, with vacancies in all engineering disciplines across the country.

It has seen the number of engineering staff rise by 4.8 per cent in the past year.

The majority of staff are set up to work from home, so that key workers at its sites can more easily maintain social distancing.

Elisavet Hadjiodysseos, a graduate industrial engineer at the Southampton site, left Southampton University with a masters degree in mechanical engineering.

She said: “My friends at university made me aware of the company, so I knew could offer a good working environment with advanced technology.

“However, what really made me want to purse their graduate programme was a discussion I had with a Leonardo graduate at a careers fair. His enthusiasm and passion for their innovation was contagious, so I went ahead and applied.

“I would urge anyone thinking of becoming an engineer to go for it, as they are looking for a wide range of talent.

“At Southampton we are making infrared sensors and what I like about it is that we create everything from scratch. I am currently the process champion on some of our processes, which I feel is one of my greatest achievements, as I am the ‘go to’ person for everything that happens on those processes. The role is very hands-on, because you get to make the product, so you become very familiar with the technology.”

Deborah Soley, Leonardo’s head of apprentice management UK, said: “There is no greater commendation for our apprenticeship programme than the real experiences of our apprentices themselves and like Elisavet said, feedback from friends is a trusted route through which people make important career decisions. Our apprentices are being given the opportunity to shape the business and make a real contribution. That has especially been the case during the current pandemic, where they have shown incredible resilience and commitment to supporting our customers, even as the business quickly and dramatically changed day-to-day working practices in response to the virus.”