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Apprentice trio take first step towards a career in engineering

08 Dec 2017

Three keen young engineers have taken the first step towards a career in engineering after being selected to join a four-year apprenticeship with Stagecoach North East.

The local bus operator has just taken on the top trio of apprentices to train at its depots in Newcastle, Teesside and South Shields. 

The apprenticeship offers a combination of block release training to achieve the Bus and Coach Engineering Technician Standard, and on the job training at the local depot. 

Engineering most definitely runs in the family for new apprentice, Harry Renwick, as his Grandad was a mechanic. The 18-year-old from Eaglescliffe has just started his engineering apprenticeship at the Teesside bus depot in Stockton. 

After leaving school, Harry spent two years at NETA Training Group in Stockton where he studied for a Level Three Diploma in Engineering Technologies. He said: “Although I didn’t work specifically with vehicles on my course, it gave me a great insight into the industry, and a good idea of tools I would be using, so I can now apply these skills to the vehicles.

“Although I applied at a couple of places for apprenticeships, I really wanted this apprenticeship at Stagecoach so I am really pleased. I have always been interested in engineering as my Grandad was a mechanic and he showed me the basics which got me interested in it so I am looking forward to the next four years of building my skills.”

21-year-old Kieran Wilson from Whiteleas in South Shields has just taken up the engineering apprenticeship at the South Shields depot, and he is the first in his family to step into the world of engineering and take his career in a new direction.

Prior to becoming an apprentice, Kieran studied software development at Gateshead College, where he achieved a BTEC Extended Diploma. 

Kieran said: “During my studies, I realised software development wasn’t what I wanted to focus on as a career, as I like working with my hands more than sitting at a desk, but finished the course and got my qualification. I applied for engineering courses here and at Unipres in Sunderland and was delighted with my offer of an apprenticeship with Stagecoach.

“I really enjoy the problem solving aspect of engineering and the different ways of fixing things – you actually have to think about the problems. So far I have been working on tasks such as changing radiators, fuel tanks and completing different types of services, with a personal mentor for advice and guidance.”

“The company invests such a lot of time and money into the apprenticeship scheme. It’s great so far, and even though I have just started, I hope to be kept on once I qualify.”

Shaun Baxter, 18, from Boldon has joined the team at the Walkergate depot in Newcastle. Shaun was a student at Whitburn Sixth Form College where he studied A-Levels in Biology, History, Psychology and PE, before taking up the apprenticeship.

He is keeping up the family tradition of working in the bus industry, as his dad works as a driver at the same depot. Shaun said: “I didn’t do as well as I wanted in my A-Levels so I thought I would enjoy this more and it would be a complete change. I really enjoy working with my hands, taking things apart that are not working and putting them back together correctly, you get a great sense of satisfaction.

“I’m also working alongside experienced apprentices and more senior members of the team which is great for building on my skills and learning from their expertise.”

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 hands-on practical training while studying at college in Glasgow over eight one-week blocks, each year.

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: “I am delighted to welcome Kieran, Shaun and Harry to the Stagecoach team. Our apprenticeship programmes give us the chance to attract and nurture the best talent in the area and we are proud to continue to invest in this scheme and to help young people in our community to flourish. 

“It is absolutely vital that we give our young people a chance to fulfil their potential, learn new skills and be ready for the world of work. The four-year course gives all our apprentices the opportunity to train while earning and we find that once qualified our trainees remain with the company for most, if not all, of their working life.

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