Apprenticeship power is being put on show at an event looking to inspire apprentices of all ages.   

Hartlepool College of Further Education is opening its doors to potential apprentices again with its Big Apprenticeship Event.   

The event will take place on Thursday March 7 to tie in with National Apprenticeship Week and will be attended by employers looking to promote a variety of apprenticeship opportunities. 

Gary Riches, Head of Apprenticeships and Employer Services at Hartlepool College of Further Education, said:

“At Hartlepool College, we are proud of the quality of our apprenticeship delivery and the success it brings to the hundreds of companies we work with throughout the region. 

“Hartlepool College of FE is the region’s leading apprenticeship provider and we have been successfully delivering apprenticeships for over 50 years. 

“This has given us the experience and knowledge needed to ensure we best support the many hundreds of organisations that we work with. “These companies range from multinational engineering companies to local SMEs across a wide variety of industries. 

“If you’re interested in finding out how and apprenticeship can benefit you then come and see why we are the best choice for your apprenticeship provision in the area.”

Attending the event will be a number of large employers in the region including:

  • Seymour Civil Engineering,
  • Thirteen Group,
  • TATA Steel,
  • EDF,
  • Gestamp Tallent,
  • Unipres and
  • Cleveland Bridge. 

Multiskilled Maintenance Technician at Gestamp Tallent

Sapphire Heselton, 19, from Middlesbrough said:

By undertaking an apprenticeship I realised just how much opportunity there is to learn every day. I’ve been able to gain so much on the job experience in a range of different areas in the auto parts manufacturing sector such as on-site electrical training, pneumatics and hydraulics.

 When I received the letter to say I’d been given an apprenticeship I was over the moon - and then I started worrying about what the others on the course were going to be like! I needn’t have worried though as everyone has been so helpful. 

I didn’t know if there were going to be any other women on the scheme.

It turns out there was one other woman on the course. But it didn’t matter as I realised regardless of gender we were all in the same boat. We had a brilliant time and some great laughs. We all just got on with the work at hand. 

At first my mum encouraged me to follow a traditional academic path but after she realised how much I enjoyed hands on work, engineering and science, she supported my decision.  

She now sees me coming home from work black as anything, pitted with muck with grease in my hair and she understands it was the right path for me. 

Gestamp understand that some people have other commitments - and if they need to get away early, or work around specific issues, they’ll try to help you where they can. 

The greatest part of the apprenticeship is definitely earning while you’re learning. I see people doing degrees who will come out at the end of it all with the same thing as me, but they will be much less financially stable. 

There’s no better feeling than on payday when you see the money in your bank. 

My four managers did their apprenticeships through Gestamp too - so they know the path you can take, and they know you have the potential to move up.

 An apprenticeship is definitely a brilliant first step for any career and I fully encourage anyone to go for it. The opportunities are endless really. 

Hartlepool College has been so supportive throughout the entire apprenticeship.

They give you the support you need but also the freedom. They show you the starting point but equip you so well to build your own maturity and independence which stands you in good stead throughout the apprenticeship experience.


Apprentice Toolmaker at Gestamp Tallent

Craig Lyons, 42, from Darlington, said:

I was already working at Gestamp on the presses when the opportunity for the apprenticeship came up. I knew it was probably going to be one of my last chances to move up the ladder and at my age I thought ‘it’s now or never’.

The quality of my working life has increased massively. You have to be happy in what you’re doing day to day and it was important that I did something for me and be proud of what I was doing.

I was worried at first. I’m married with two kids and a house, so I was worried about the monetary side of it. On top of that I hadn’t been in education since 1993. 

I was thinking ‘am I going to be able to do it?’ and ‘has it all changed?’ I didn’t know how hard education was going to be at the start. But after a while - and a lot of support, guidance and help - it’s been brilliant. I’ve not had to worry since. 

My family and friends are really proud of what I’m doing and have supported me a lot throughout the process. We knew it was going to be tough - and some of the people I was working with at the time asked me if I was too old to be undertaking an apprenticeship - but I’ve put those issues to bed. 

I’ve really enjoy studying again, having a laugh with everyone else on the course and getting paid for it.There’s so much scope for development after my apprenticeship. Options after I’ve finished including in the mechanical, electrical or managerial areas of the business.

The management know the training you’ve been put through and know that we’ve been moulded into exactly what Gestamp needs. You become such an important part of the team because of that. 

If you’re a little older and you’re thinking about going for an apprenticeship I say go for it 100% and don’t look back. You’ll never look back on the decision. 

Multi-skilled Maintenance Technician at Gestamp Tallent

Alex Richardson, 25, from Kirk Merrington, said:

I was working in production at Gestamp when I was offered the apprenticeship. I struggled at first, but I kept my mind on the final outcome and the opportunities that would be afforded to me because of the apprenticeship.  

My family were great when I decided to undertake my apprenticeship which was a massive support. Due to my age, it meant that initially there would be a change in financial circumstances due to taking on an apprenticeship.

But Gestamp has been brilliant. They’ve offered me the opportunity to work overtime on weekends in order to make up for any shortfall. 

I could have easily stayed in my previous role with Gestamp, but I know I wouldn’t have had the opportunities to learn and to move up the ladder like I do now. At the end of it all I wouldn’t have had the qualification either. 

The company has invested so much in me and they want to see me get on well.Once I receive my qualification at the end of the apprenticeship, I can move on to a HND in mechanical or electrical engineering if I choose to. There’s also the potential for a management degree. 

I’m much better off where I am now than I was before I started my apprenticeship. Age is just a number and it shouldn’t stop anyone from following their own path.I’m so happy I went for an apprenticeship and I just hope anyone reading this goes for it like I did.” 

The Big Apprenticeship Event takes place at Hartlepool College of Further Education on Thursday, March 7 at 5:30pm. 

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