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Engineering Apprenticeship


Hello all. I have applied for the RFA Engineering Apprenticeship and will take the RT a week on Wednesday. I am an ex-RN seaman but always wished I had originally signed up as a stoker, hence the reason for going for engineering this time around.

I know that the apprenticeship is quite new, but I wondered if anyone knows how the level of training compares to the RN Engineering Technician? In my day there were MEMs and Tiffs. Is the Technician a hybrid of both? That is what I have rightly or wrongly presumed. I just wondered how skilled the various engineering groups are. Also is there any difference in the level of training between the new Apprentice scheme and the old Motorman entry training?

I am just hoping to get back to sea as what our American cousins call a snipe.

Cheers to all,


Lantern Swinger
Well if you want a totally unreliable answer

Tiffs have gone from the RN, they stopped the training pipeline a few years back, everyone became technicians. Recently the RN re-invented the wheel under project Faraday where selected Technicians can be fast tracked to Chief (same routine as the old tiff system, but they are not to be called tiffs because that might embarrass whichever Senior Officer thought it was a grand idea to do away with them).

How it all compares to the RFA? well our MM undertake a lot of their initial training on RN bases, and weirdly the course content is often recycled from existing RN modules or just blatant copies. I believe our L/H MM now do the same Leading Engineering Technician course as our RN brethren, but I have yet had a chance to have a chat with anyone who has completed the course. We dont run the Tiff system, hopefully if you have that sort of ability with academics someone at somepoint will point you down the RTO (Rating to Officer) route.

How do RN ETs compare to RFA MM, pretty much as the RN to the RFA, we are more lean manned so tend to be more jack of all trades.

However on the same note the 2nd Engineer or the Donkeyman might like a sparkly engine room so there might be a lot of mops and buckets in your near future as you will find there are not many people to keep clean some very large and dirty spaces.

As for the initial training difference between MM (Grade 2) and MM Apprentice, not sure as per the L/H ET course I have yet to really have a good chat with anyone who has completed the course. My gut feeling from talking to Apprentices of other branches was its more an acknowledgment that you are here to learn and are a trainee (rather than a substantive but most junior of the MM), the skill sets being delivered are intended to be the same.

Please someone correct me!


Many thanks Random. Sounds a good answer to me. I was quite surprised when I learned that tiffs had disappeared. Though from what you say have returned in a new guise. How do the modern Technicians compare to the old Stokers (MEM)? I often thought their abilities were underestimated.

I am hoping to give the apprenticeship a good go. Sounds like a good scheme. I hadn't heard of the RTO route. Is it a common route to take or a bit of a rarity?

Thanks again mate for the information.


Lantern Swinger
I am hoping to give the apprenticeship a good go. Sounds like a good scheme. I hadn't heard of the RTO route. Is it a common route to take or a bit of a rarity?

A fair proportion of our marine engineers have come up through the RTO route, some straight after qualifying as MM, some after reaching PO(E) or CPO(E).


Thanks, I didn't realise this was possible. I am getting on a bit so not sure how practically possible it would be. I didn't want to look at a cadetship as I didn't fancy spending three years on low pay while I qualified. Also I really just wanted to do a stoker job so MM looked ideal. However it's nice to know there may be possibilities to progress further. I'll be happy just to get the apprenticeship for now.

Cheers for the info Random. I presume you are currently RFA? Mind me asking what you do?
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