Extracted (with permission!) from an email discussion with an 139'er who's still in. "No names, no pack drill" as they say . . .
"How's life as a Chief? Put it this way, I'm older, balder and grey and I suppose a bit wiser.
At the moment it's hectic because I've had three bloody good NCO's posted out on the same day and only received one replacement so far. What with people detached, courses and leave I'm short of supervisors and am having to work down a level and do my own job as well. With old aircraft, scarce spares and a lack of manpower trying to meet the same demands proves interesting, but it's been like that for the last 10 years or so, longer.
I'll tell you one thing mate, if you came back in the mob tomorrow you wouldn't recognise it. They keep trying to keep up with civvy street. The apprenticeship went because they adopted the system that British Airways used. We just about got it up and running and BA dropped it because it was shite.
The Training has been tweaked again since. The latest is everyone is now multi skilled i.e. what we were trained to do, but where we spent three years getting our skills after a 4-6 week course we are all equal. I term myself 'proper multi skilled' not plastic multi skilled.
New trainees now come out of Cosford with the basics of all 4 trades and are effectively FLM's. After 18-24 months they then go for further training for 18 months and come out as SAC Techs, JT doesn't exist anymore, which is roughly equivalent to us when we left Halton.
The calibre of the lads coming in nowadays is nothing like our entry. Political correctness and health and safety have seriously diluted the Forces.