From apprentice to apprenticeship boss

Tees Business Digital Media Pack

Hartlepool College of Further Education has appointed Gary Riches as head of apprenticeships, coming full circle after completing his award-winning apprenticeship with the organisation over 18 years ago.

The college first allowed Gary to start his career as an apprentice electrician in the year 2000, when he was employed by Tees firm Gus Robinson Developments.

After four years, Gary progressed to a fully qualified electrical technician and two years later on to a project manager and electrical estimator before going on to manage the entire electrical department in just 10 years.

As head of apprenticeships, Gary’s main task is to oversee the transition from apprenticeship frameworks to the new standards brought in with the introduction of the levy.

He also manages all of the work based assessors that undertake progress reviews with apprentices in their workplace.

“I also want to take the college towards higher education apprenticeships and in particular I will be looking at working alongside some of the brilliant higher education institutions in the region including Teesside University,” said Gary.

“I’m extremely passionate about apprenticeships because I’ve been there myself. Apprenticeships are an incredibly important option for learners. They allow people to get the crucial skills they need to work in a variety of industries and set learners up for the rest of their careers.

“With the new apprenticeship levy, it’s great that employers are able to take more charge of the apprenticeships they offer and hopefully this will see a much-needed influx of apprenticeships and apprentices, not only in our region but nationally.”


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