Finding the perfect opportunity

Luke Johnson was convinced his future lay in a Cyber Security Apprenticeship at Smiths Detection 

Luke Johnson was one of the first young people to benefit from a Cyber Security Apprenticeship scheme offered by Smiths Detection – a new specialism which reflects the need for robust and evolving action to mitigate the growth in cyber security threats.

‘Growing up I was always interested in sport but on a cold wet UK day on the football field, I made the decision to shift my ambitions towards a career in technology! The change of focus was quite natural as I also loved gaming, had built my own PC, and started developing websites for fun. I went on to gain higher education qualifications in Computing and set out to find the right opportunity.’ 

He set up a LinkedIn page, posted his CV and expressed an interest in apprenticeships. Within a day or two, details of the opportunity to join Smiths Detection as a Cyber Security Apprentice dropped into his inbox. ‘At this point, I had no idea this type of role existed in industry and yet, as soon as I read the information, I knew this was the job for me – I was so convinced, I didn’t make any other applications. The opportunity to get involved in such an exciting and fast expanding area was too good to miss.’

Mutual values

Having always been driven to make a difference, Luke was attracted to the Smiths Detection values and products. His approach during the interview process was to emphasis his suitability for the position and his enthusiasm for the mission to make the world a safer place – and that includes the cyber world.

‘Airport security had always seemed a time-consuming irritation but the more I learned about Smiths Detection, the more I realised the key role it plays in protecting people from potential threats. I went on holiday just before joining the company and began to notice the Smiths Detection name everywhere at the airports – it really is a global force and I will certainly never grumble about security checks ever again!’

Successful onboarding  

At the interview stage, Luke was given detailed briefings on the technical demands and what to expect from the apprenticeship, the digital team, and the company. Yet within a couple of months, the job had already exceeded everything he had envisaged.

I expected to get my head down, work hard and get along with those around me, but it really is unbelievable how everyone has made me feel so welcome and so supported. From the very first day, the senior engineers have looked after me and been ready to help or answer questions. I know they will be there for me in terms of my well-being as well as my role in the team. It’s like a family with everyone looking out for each other and I felt completely integrated very quickly. It gets better and better every day.’ 

Due to the pandemic, Luke started working four days remotely and one day at Smiths Detection. Despite the separation, communication is excellent and consistent, and he immediately felt valued and a recognised member of the team and the company.

Best of both worlds 

Luke had to decide between university or an apprenticeship and he believes he now has the best of both worlds – gaining invaluable work experience and training plus a BSc (Hons) Cyber Security Technical Professional awarded by Northumbria University.

‘The objective is to equip me for a career in cyber security and technology within engineering and a broad range of business environments. I spend 80% of my contracted time working and 20% studying, which is also currently remote and therefore very flexible. I can choose to dedicate one day per week to my studies or spread it over several days.’ 

In addition to BSc studies and hands on training, Luke’s apprenticeship will include a variety of related courses – for example, learning more about Python programming language.

Carving out a career

Following completion of the five-year apprenticeship, Luke plans to grab any chance to stay on at Smiths Detection.

‘I see myself carving out a career with this organisation and I’d love to experience working in different environments and cultures – maybe visiting other company facilities around the world and discovering how they operate. You never know, sometime in the future it could happen!!!!’