Five years after arriving in Edinburgh with no English, engineering apprentice Pawel is working on major aerospace projects

When Pawel Maczynski arrived in Edinburgh from his native Poland five years ago he could not speak any English and faced bleak employment prospects.

Pawel Maczynski has nothing but praise for his employer, aerospace engineering firm Leonardo
Pawel Maczynski has nothing but praise for his employer, aerospace engineering firm Leonardo

Now, Gdansk-born Pawel, 20, is in the third year of an apprentice with aerospace engineering company Leonardo, working on some of the company’s key contracts including Tempest, the RAF’s next-gen fighter jet which is set to enter service in 2035.

Leonardo, which employs more than 2,000 people at Crewe Toll in Edinburgh, is increasing its early careers population by 50% over the coming year.

Across the UK, Leonardo plans to hire an additional 300 apprentices, bringing the total number of young people on early careers schemes to 900.

Apprentices like Pawel get to work on exciting projects such as Tempest, the RAF's next-gen fighter jet (Pic: RAF)

Leonardo wants to bulldoze barriers to inclusion by recruiting a more diverse early careers population of graduates, apprentices and placements to fill vacancies for programmes set to run to 2040 and beyond.

Pawel came to the UK when his father found work in Edinburgh. He attended Craigroyston High School, where one of his teachers told him about an opportunity to join a pre-apprenticeship scheme at Leonardo to give local school students hands-on experience.

He started working on his pre-apprenticeship in the manufacturing halls at Leonardo in January 2020, but was interrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

When his family decided to move back to Poland, Pawel applied for an apprenticeship at Leonardo.

Lynda McVay believes there is a 'ripple effect' from hiring people who are disadvantaged or have diverse backgrounds

He said: “When I first came to Scotland five years ago, I couldn’t speak English and I was very shy.

"I would talk to my Polish friends and that was about it. I was so quiet when I started my apprenticeship at Leonardo. I did not talk to anyone, as I was conscious that English was my second language, so I felt so nervous and I was very focused on getting all my work done. But now I’m more open to people and I really like talking to my colleagues, getting to know them and asking them questions, so the apprenticeship has really changed me.”

One of the elements of the apprenticeship that Pawel has appreciated has been the one to one mentoring he has received which has encouraged him to be more outgoing.

Pawel said: “I didn’t really ever have problems getting the work done, it was always about me trying to speak more and trying not to be shy.”

Leonardo sees young apprentices approach problems with fresh ideas

“Leonardo looks for people with a spark, who are passionate about their work, and motivated to take an active part in projects. It is about how we interact and invite different people into the business. People who are self-motivated and are actually interested in what they do.”

Leonardo has just completed an assessment by This is Purpose, an organisation which seeks to improve social mobility in the UK, which found the company is contributing to positive destinations for those aged over 16 and benefitting disadvantaged regions by providing life-changing career opportunities.

Lynda McVay, Director of Skills and Capability at Leonardo said: “Offering better social mobility to people from underrepresented communities through well paid professional careers can have a ripple effect that stretches far beyond the individual employed. They can become trusted role models for the young people from their communities, by opening doors they thought were closed, or they didn’t know existed.”

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