College searches for apprentices to bridge skills gap

Eilish Millar, David Steel and Lewis Wigham from Altec.
Eilish Millar, David Steel and Lewis Wigham from Altec.

Would-be apprentices are being urged to come to an open day as a college continues its bid to bridge the skills shortage.

Hartlepool College of Further Education is planning the event on March 9. Principal Darren Hankey said: “Research suggests that if you have exposure to the workplace before the age of 24, you are more productive throughout your working life.”

Research suggests that if you have exposure to the workplace before the age of 24, you are more productive throughout your working life.

Darren Hankey

The college ranked top in the North in the current Skills Funding Agency nationwide rankings for apprenticeship providers, and Durham-based Altec has worked with it over the past 50 years as a leading apprenticeship provider.

Mr Hankey added: “For our students, they are not only gaining theoretical knowledge but by working at companies like Altec they are gaining valuable life experience.”

The Altec Engineering Group, based at Bowburn, first employed Hartlepool College students in 2010. The Group employs around 180 people at sites across the North and 8% are apprentices.

Group Development Director David Steel said: “We turned to Hartlepool College of Further Education because we were not 100% satisfied with other apprenticeship providers and we have not regretted our decision.”

Mr Steel added: “There is a skills gap and an ageing working population which the college and its apprenticeships are working hard to close.”

Engineering apprentice Lewis Wigham, 23, originally joined Altec while completing a two-year NVQ with Hartlepool College.

He said: “The classroom side of things prepares you for the workplace where you shadow experienced members of staff before you gradually build up your skills so that you can work alone.”

The college has hundreds of places available for courses beginning this September and invites this year’s school-leavers, their families and prospective adult learners to The Big Apprenticeship Night.

Employers and staff will be on hand from 5.30pm-8pm on Thursday, March 9, at the College’s campus in Stockton Street.

For more information, visit hartlepoolfe.ac.uk, call (01429) 295000 or follow the College on Twitter at @hartlepoolfe and Facebook.