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Meet our Apprentices and Training Coordinators

If you are thinking about choosing an apprenticeship as your route to career success, or are an employer considering taking on an apprentice to bring fresh ideas to your business, then take a moment to read about the experiences of some of our apprentices and their Training Coordinators.

Meet our Apprentices

Name: Tom Bird

Apprenticeship: Business Improvement Techniques Advanced

Tom has completed an intermediate apprenticeship in Business Improvement Techniques with Weetabix, and has now moved onto the advanced scheme.

“After my A levels, I didn’t want to go to university and felt ready to go into a practical work environment, so I was delighted to take up an apprenticeship. I’ve been given plenty of support during my time here and I’ve enjoyed learning lots of new skills since joining Weetabix. My people skills have really flourished and I am constantly interacting with staff from all sorts of departments and different areas, including senior members of the team. This has been very helpful in the development of my skills and knowledge.

“I think Weetabix has done exceptionally well in incorporating me as an apprentice into the day-to-day working life of the company. I’m not seen as an outsider to the rest of the team and from day one I have been welcomed into the company - the mentoring programme was a big help with this.

“I’ve had good support from Tresham College, with clear and helpful communication throughout the process. When I started the apprenticeship, I was a little unsure about how to present my project work, so the advice I got from my assessor was very helpful.

“After this apprenticeship, I hope to stay with the company and move on to a team leadership role. There may be the potential for me to move into shift and manufacturing management, but I’m not limited to just these areas and have spent time working in other departments like marketing, quality and health and safety. This has given me further insight and provided a well-rounded view of Weetabix, so there are loads of opportunities to explore.”

Name: Jack Young

Apprenticeship: Mechatronics Level 3

I have worked at the Tayto Group for two years and in my time I have progressed from agency staff on production and now working towards being a qualified Engineer. The company has a clear path of progression for apprenticeships with the current plan to continue the intake of engineering apprentices. Since I have been studying engineering at Tresham College, I have learned a solid base of theory and practical skills which I’m now able to apply within my workplace. The apprenticeship process is a great opportunity to start learning a trade while earning money.

I would like to thank Dave Weston and the Tayto Group for giving me this fantastic opportunity.

Name: Isaac Tozer

Apprenticeship: Business

I have really enjoyed my experience at Peterborough United and I am also grateful for all the support I have received from Clare and Tresham College as well as all of my colleagues. I have learnt lots of new skills with Clare which have been helpful as I have been able to apply them into my work to improve the quality of my work. This apprenticeship has also given me the experience of how a workplace operates as well as working with others to ensure tasks are complete, I have learnt plenty of invaluable skills here at Peterborough United which I am sure will help me in future life.

Dzintars is an exceptional apprentice, not only because of the high standard of his practical skills but also his consistent, excellent College work and his positive, ‘can-do’ attitude.

Having moved from Latvia in 2012, Dzintars has been driven to make the most of every opportunity and is highly motivated to achieve his full potential. Dzintars was particularly keen to apply for an apprenticeship as he believed he would learn more on the job and gain more practical, hands-on experience in engineering. He wanted to deal with real work scenarios, which cannot be replicated in textbooks or in the classroom. The apprenticeship route allowed him to work alongside some highly skilled professionals, learn the best techniques and gain the greatest knowledge of engineering first-hand.

Dzintars faced initial set-backs when his marine engineering apprenticeship fell through, however he persevered with his dream to become a qualified engineer and successfully completed the Level 2 Diploma in Engineering Maintenance Technology alongside the Energy Skills Foundation Programme.

Dzintars then progressed on to a City and Guilds NVQ L3 Extended Diploma Engineering Maintenance Mechanical Engineering Practices with leading facilities engineering company EJ Musk in 2018.  He currently works at Weetabix supporting and enhancing the performance of their engineering processes.

Dzintars’s employers at EJ Musk Process Services, have also been exceptionally impressed with him. In 2019 Dzintars beat 157 other apprentices in the company and was awarded the EJ Musk Apprentice of the Year.  This recognised Dzintars’s outstanding professionalism, motivation and the continued care he took to ensure his work was carried out to the highest standards.

Darren Martin, Operations Director at Musk Process Services said: “Dzintars was an obvious choice for our Apprentice of the Year award in 2019. There is never anything but positive feedback about his work and attitude, and that has come from multiple colleagues of his in various roles.  Despite being an apprentice, Dzintars is seen as the “go to guy” in the team to get jobs done at Weetabix where he is based. He always takes a positive approach to his work and drives his own development, having practised and learned skills beyond those which are required at each stage of his apprenticeship.”

Dzintars is now one of the most experience apprentices in his company and he has been given the responsibility to lead jobs and train new staff coming into the company.  He has also completed the following training courses in addition to his apprenticeship: Confined Space Entry (Escape Sets): Counterbalance Forklift Truck; Mobile Elevating Work Platforms - IPAF (3A), (3B); Slinger / Signaller; Introduction to 5S.

Meet our Training Coordinators

Name: Mark Harrison

Department: Engineering

Mark started his engineering career working for British Steel (Corus) as a Maintenance Engineer across a variety of departments for 23 years, before working for a couple of E2E providers and eventually moving into assessing.

“We did our own maintenance at Corus on everything from pneumatic cylinders, hydraulic valves, right through to large gearboxes etc. We did our own welding, oxy acetylene burning, pipe-fitting, crane driving, forklift driving and I was in the first group to complete the electrical multi-skilling course,” says Mark.

“I also worked in the services department for two years regulating the boilers and compressors. The last few years of my time in Corus were spent as part of a production team where we not only made the tube, but carried out repairs and maintenance where required as well.”

Having been an apprentice himself, Mark can appreciate what his learners are going through and guide them to achieve their goals in the best way. “I have worked in a variety of roles in industry, so my sector knowledge is quite broad, which helps in planning observations and written work,” he says.

“The average age of an Engineer is someone in their late fifties, so there aren’t unlimited resources available. If companies don’t train people up now then they could struggle in the future. Apprentices are a valuable resource within a company,” says Mark.

Name: Nathan Balfour

Department: Construction

Nathan started his career in the construction trades as an apprentice. He worked in the maintenance team at a university doing decorating, joinery, plastering and basic plumbing. “I slowly became in charge of all decorating work on the campuses and, before I left, was in charge of an apprentice,” explains Nathan.

Since then Nathan’s work in the industry has ranged from: working for a decorating firm on domestic and commercial work; working self-employed for an estate agent inspecting houses once tenants had left and carrying out any work required; and working for a property developer contracted to complete a large number of new build houses and flats.

Nathan believes the knowledge and experience he has gained from working across all aspects of the trade have set him in a good position for his role as Assessor. His favourite part of the job is meeting and working with a variety of learners and employers from the start to the end of their programme.

Nathan’s skill and expertise saw him receive direct claim status for his subject area within the first six months of working at the College. This means the College has been judged to have an appropriately skilled and knowledgeable internal Assessor - plus robust quality systems - to make correct decisions about awarding learners, without constant supervision from the awarding body.

Name: Gerry Cooney

Department: Construction

Gerry has a wide range of experience in the construction industry and worked as a Bricklayer for around 25 years on projects at home and abroad. He’s also held a number of roles within the education sector and now, as an Assessor, is able to marry the two up.

“Having come into teaching it’s nice to be able to pass on my experience to a new generation,” explains Gerry, who has also worked as a Lecturer in other colleges and in the Prison Education sector. He believes that other people take on apprentices to, like him, give something back to an industry that they have found rewarding, both financially and professionally.

“I worked at the old Tresham College in George Street years ago as a Technician,” says Gerry. Since then I have had a varied career in industry and education, so it’s been nice to come full circle. Getting out and meeting people I have known and worked with in the past is a joy.”

Gerry enjoys being able to help people better themselves and says his sense of humour enables him to break down barriers and form working relationships.

Name: Laura Start

Department: Hairdressing

For Laura, a career in hairdressing was always on the horizon. “I have worked in salons from 14 years old when I completed work experience,” she explains. “I was then given the opportunity to complete an apprenticeship and worked my way up to become a Salon Manager.”

“After completing my Level 3 Hairdressing I had the buzz to learn more and wanted to progress in my career. My tutor at the time recommended the assessors training. I really enjoyed this and applied for a job here at Tresham.”

Laura is now a valued part of the Hairdressing Department, where she loves helping learners with their practical skills, both at College and in the workplace. “I am very approachable and feel that the learners and employers can come to me for support with anything they may need during the apprenticeship journey,” she says.

When she’s not with her learners, Laura likes to keep her industry skills fully up to date so that she can pass her knowledge back to them.

She says that employers should take on an apprentice, not only to train and mould them to the values and standards of their establishment, but also to bring talent and flair to their business.

Laura knows all too well about the talent that can emerge from apprenticeships and says her proudest moment so far, alongside completing her teacher training, was organising a Hair Show for the Level 3 learners and seeing how proud they were at the end of it. “The Mayor attended to show her support and it was just such a great experience for everyone involved.”

Name: Clare Shemilt

Department: Business

Clare has a wide range of experience in industry. She completed an apprenticeship in Customer Service while working as a Hotel Assistant Manager, and even has a thank you letter from the Queen’s Anniversary Prizes Office for an event she ran - quite an accolade! Clare had always enjoyed training staff and supporting them in upskilling, so with her experience and qualification combined, a role in assessing was a natural progression.

“I moved from Kent last year and wanted to find a more local position, as I was commuting nationally, so this was a perfect choice,” says Clare, who has been an Assessor for 11 years.

Other roles that Clare has had include AEB Manger, Recruitment and Careers Advisor and Training and Business Development Manager, working in partnership with local councils and charitable organisations to large private companies.

“I have been heavily involved in the education sector supporting the unemployed back into work, running short course programmes and acting as a careers advisor across various sectors for apprenticeships to educate about the options available,” explains Clare.

Back at the College, Clare’s biggest achievement has been producing a delivery model to support the new Level 3 Business programme delivery standards, in order to help employers understand how the standards work.

She says her cognitive flexibility is her biggest strength, enabling her to adapt to different learners, employers and how she communicates with them. “Apprentices have chosen this route into employment and are keen and enthusiastic to learn new skills. They bring new energy into the business with a thirst for knowledge.”

Name: Mark Godwin

Department: Motorsport

Settling in well to his role at the National College for Motorsport (NC4M), Mark already feels a great sense of achievement to successfully place each student on an apprenticeship and is proud to be part of the great team at NC4M.

“Having worked in the industry for many years in a variety of different roles, I felt it was the right time to give something back to the new generation of mechanics, which hopefully share the same passion for the sport that I do,” says Mark, who joined the College after meeting fellow Assessor Chris Weller on his visits to Mark’s apprentices and his own race team.

Mark trained as a race engine builder, progressing to building engines for F1, Indycar, F3000 and World Sports Cars teams. “I started and owned two championship winning race teams spanning a period of 15 years in Formula Ford, BMW, Renault and F4,” he explains.

“I have also worked as a Team Manager, Race Engineer and Driver Management Consultant for a number of prominent teams and drivers. I competed in rallying and circuit racing in my youth!” As a Race Engineer, Mark worked with many drivers in their junior years who went on to F1 including Daniel Ricciardo, Marcus Ericsson, Will Stevens and Esteban Ocon.

Mark’s breadth of knowledge and enthusiasm for the industry enables him to impart that knowledge to, as he puts it, “anyone who is keen enough to soak it up.”

Name: Chris Weller

Department: Motorsport

Chris has had an impressive and varied career in motor racing and brings a wealth of experience into his role as an Assessor. He and his team at the National College for Motorsport have provided such a good service that Chris was presented with the Motorsport Industry Association Business Excellence Award for Service to the Industry in 2017, on their behalf.

Chris has worked in Formula 1 in quality control and as both a Race Mechanic and Chief Mechanic. He’s also been a Race Team Owner for Formula 3 and Race Engineer in various categories. He started as an Assessor after being in contact with the College to take on an apprentice himself with his previous team.

“I wanted to assist young people to find apprenticeships and start their careers in the industry,” explains Chris. “I enjoy helping to open doors into the industry for new, aspiring race mechanics.”

With so many contacts in the industry and a thorough understanding of the requirements of employer and apprentice, Chris is keen to continue to promote apprenticeships to employers as “an opportunity to train new mechanics the way they want to.”

Alongside the Business Excellence Award, Chris and has won the AVON Tyres British Formula 3 Team of the Year, in 1997 and 2004, with his previous teams. He has also been invited to deliver a talk on race engineering and race car set up to a Norwegian group of delegates at a two day seminar in Oslo.

Name: Lisa Waller

Department: Care and Early Years

Although fairly new to her role as an Apprenticeship Assessor, Lisa has known that she wanted to become an Assessor ever since she started working in childcare and education 10 years ago. “I remember meeting one of my colleague’s Assessors when I first worked in a nursery and talked to them about their role. From that point it was my goal to become one,” explains Lisa. “I enjoy seeing learners achieve and seeing them learn and progress in their job role.”

Lisa has a wealth of experience in industry, having held a range of positions in the private and public sectors. She has worked closely with unprivileged children and families as a Nursery Nurse and Senior Early Years Educator at a children’s centre, as a Teaching Assistant in various primary schools and as a Nursery Supervisor for a nursery chain.

Another big organisation that Lisa has experience with is Milton Keynes Council, whom she worked for as an Ethnic Minority Language Support Worker, supporting children in schools across Milton Keynes. She has also travelled to work as a Kindergarten English Teacher in an orphanage for a year abroad.

Lisa enjoys the interaction and communication with employers and learners that is a pivotal part of her role and is always keen to highlight to employers the drive and passion that apprentices possess; “they are so committed,” she says.