National Apprenticeship Week Q&A: Lisa Teague, Rolls-Royce

Following President Trump’s Executive Order on Expanding Apprenticeships in America, the A&D industry has made significant strides to promote effective work-based development programs as a more affordable pathway to highly-skilled, high-paying jobs. In celebration of National Apprenticeship Week (Nov. 12-Nov. 18), we reached out to some of our members to learn more about how apprenticeships impact the Aerospace and Defense industry by opening doors for men and women looking to join our team.

Lisa Teague, Head of Research & Technology at Rolls-Royce, shared her take on the excitement around the industry and advice for future apprentices. Check out her answers below:

1. Why should current and future apprentices be excited about the Aerospace & Defense industry? What encourages you most as you think about the industry’s future?  

Our products, in my case power and propulsion systems for the Aerospace & Defense industry, must meet the highest standards for performance and reliability.  We continue to improve our products by developing new technologies that can be used to reduce fuel burn, noise and emissions of our gas turbine engines as well as developing innovative solutions to address three key trends which will define the world’s future power needs: growing demand for 1) cleaner, safer, and more competitive power, 2) electrification, and 3) digitalization.

There are not that many companies around the world who can do what we do, and we’re constantly challenged to do more.  We contribute positively to the economic and national security of the U.S.  The U.S. government depends on our expertise, technology advancement and innovation to protect citizens and allies around the world.

The pace of change in the industry is also increasing, meaning a lot of excitement about not only continuing to improve the gas turbine itself but also pull in emerging trends like digital and electrification, including electric and hybrid electric flight.  There are lots of opportunities to make a difference in an industry that employs millions of people and helps keep us all safe.

2. What role do you believe the Industry Recognized Apprenticeship Program Standards will play for A&D?

The A&D industry has long recognized the value that work-based learning programs can provide to both the student/participant and the company.  At Rolls-Royce, we’ve had strong cooperative education and summer internship programs for a long time, and a lot of our employees trace their engagement with us back to one of those programs.  Those programs also are successful feeder programs into our graduate development program, which is a rotational program for college new-hires to accelerate development while fostering exposure to different parts of the business.

What we found during the discussions in developing the standards was that there are a lot of similarities in what the companies represented in those calls offer.  But we also found some differences, and it was enlightening to see how some of those work.  A&D consists of a lot more companies than the ones that worked on the standards, so I hope the standards will give all A&D companies ideas that will help raise the bar for developing young talent.

3. What advice do you have for students who are considering an apprenticeship within the Aerospace & Defense industry?

Start looking early.  Attend career fairs.  Do some research about the companies you want to talk to and find out about the global impact of the industry.  The companies truly want work-based learning to be beneficial to both the student and the company, so be open in your discussions about your interests and what excites you to make sure the experience would be mutually beneficial.

If interested in manufacturing, realize that modern manufacturing of today is not the same as manufacturing of a few decades ago.  Talk to community colleges in your area about what they offer and any partnerships they may have with industry.