From education to employment

College directors prove that Apprenticeships are a route to the top!

Ryan Johnson, Campus Director, Stoke on Trent College

Two directors at Stoke on Trent College have told how they started their careers as apprentices, as we celebrate National Apprenticeships Week.

Ryan Johnson, a Campus Director, started his working life as a motor vehicle apprentice, while Heather Marks, Executive Director for the Quality of Education, started her career as a floristry apprentice.

Ryan, aged 37, from Nantwich, works at Stoke on Trent College’s Burslem campus, where he oversees teaching and learning in STEM and construction technologies.

He started his career as an apprentice with the BMW Group, before working in dealerships as a licensed vehicle technician and then going into a role based in Spain. There he worked alongside leading vehicle manufacturers to support future product design including the development of Advanced Driver Assisted Systems (ADAS). Ryan has worked closely with manufacturers such as Bentley, Mercedes, BMW, Toyota and Lexus. During his time overseas he had the opportunity to work with the Panasonic Formula 1 team.

On his return to the UK he turned his skills to a teaching role, training the next generation in the motor industry and passing on his knowledge to students. His career in education saw him progress into a senior quality management role before joining Stoke on Trent College, where he is part of the senior leadership team.

Ryan is passionate about renewable energy and green technology and has been responsible for introducing and overseeing a number of initiatives, including a range of courses available for local employers who want to train workers in maintaining electric vehicles, installing electric charging points, and installation of renewable energy heating systems ranging from the city’s district heat network, to solar panel installation and unvented hot water systems.

Heather Marks, age 48, from Lichfield, started her career as a floristry apprentice before going on to open and run her own florist with help from the Princes Youth Business Trust, employing four apprentices. She found teaching her apprentices so rewarding that she decided to train as a college lecturer. She then progressed her career in education, most recently joining Stoke on Trent College two years ago.

Heather is currently completing an MA in Education at Staffordshire University, researching international good practice in teaching young people who have experienced trauma or disadvantage in their early life – a subject she is extremely passionate about.

Stoke on Trent College’s Principal and Chief Executive, Denise Brown, comments: “Ryan and Heather are both proof that apprenticeships lead to rewarding and successful careers. Their experience in industry and their passion for education and training is invaluable to our learners. What a great example to inspire our students, our staff and our apprentices.”

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