Apprentices take first steps towards careers in Engineering

03 Dec 2015

Five keen young engineers have taken the first step towards a career in mechanical and electrical engineering after being selected to join a four-year apprenticeship with a national bus company.

Local bus operator, Stagecoach North East, has just taken on five apprentices to train at its depots in Newcastle, Teesside, South Shields and Sunderland.

20-year old Jonathan Rowland from Peterlee has just started his engineering apprenticeship at the Sunderland bus depot. Prior to taking up the opportunity to becoming an apprentice, Jonathan spent 18 months working with a parts supplier for Nissan. He said: “This is a job that I have always wanted to do and something that I really enjoy, especially the problem solving and working things out, which I do a lot at home. I am looking forward to learning everything I can about the role.”

After taking a course in engineering and gaining a basic grounding in the industry, Liam Mackel, 17 from Downhill in Sunderland, is now based at its Slatyford depot in Newcastle.

Engineering runs in the Mackel family, as Liam’s Dad is an engineering supervisor at the company’s bus depot in Sunderland. Liam said: “I find cars too small and fiddly to work with so buses are a great way for me to be able to continue with my learning in engines and mechanics. I am already finding out about diagnostics and the computers needed to run the buses, which is really interesting.”

19-year old Adam Jones from Norton in Stockton began his apprenticeship at the Teesside depot in Stockton. Adam studied electrical installation at Stockton Riverside College and is the first in his family to take a step into the world of engineering.

Adam said: “I would like to learn more mechanical skills and think the apprenticeship will suit me really well as I enjoy finding out how things work and how they do the job. Already I have started doing vehicle maintenance, like changing alternator belts and it’s great.”

17-year old Thomas Shannon from Wallsend has taken up a post at the Walkergate depot in Newcastle. He studied graphic design at St Thomas More College, but is now taking his career in a new direction and is looking forward to learning more at Stagecoach’s Walkergate depot.

Thomas said: “Although I liked graphic design, I would like to learn more mechanical skills and think the apprenticeship will suit me really well as I also really enjoy problem solving and learning new techniques. Already I have started working on buses and it’s great.”

17-year old Andrew Latimer from Whickham in Gateshead has joined the team at South Shields.  Andrew studied an engineering course at the Tyne Metropolitan College, so has already has a basic knowledge of the industry.

He said: “I would like to develop my mechanical skills and think the apprenticeship will suit me really well as I enjoy finding out how things work and how they do the job. I have just started the apprenticeship and already find it really interesting and this will lead to a great job opportunity at the end of the course.”

The local bus operator offers apprenticeship opportunities in body or combined mechanical and electrical engineering and the apprentices will be spending the next four years gaining hand-on practical training alongside studying at college in Glasgow over six one-week blocks each year.

The four-year programme involves a combination of residential training undertaking the Technical Certificate in Bus and Coach Engineering Maintenance and on the job training at a local depot. As engineering apprentices, they will learn all aspects of vehicle maintenance through their workshop experience, preparing vehicles for the road, conducting MOT’s and making repairs. As part of the training programme, every apprentice is guided by a nominated mentor from the company who will provide support and advice throughout the four-year scheme.

Gary Chisholm, Engineering Director at Stagecoach North East, said: “It is still a challenging time for young people in this industry and in finding long term employment generally, so we are proud to continue to invest in this scheme and to help young people in our community to flourish. All five apprentices show great promise and I am sure that they will be an asset to the engineering teams so we are delighted to welcome them aboard.

“The Stagecoach engineering apprenticeship scheme is proving as popular as ever, with over 195 applications across the six depots in the north east this year. However, about 95 percent of our applications came from men and we would like to encourage aspiring female engineers to consider applying next year and taking up a satisfying and ultimately rewarding career with Stagecoach.”

On successful completion of the training, the apprentices will be awarded an Apprenticeship in Bus and Coach Engineering Maintenance qualification and will then have the opportunity to become a licensed member of IRTEC (The Institute of Road Transport Engineers).