Engineering apprentices to take Tees studies

Two dozen apprentices will regularly hit the A19 in recognisable royal blue uniforms to further their development at a Tees college.

The significant number is a further indication of a successful partnership between Unipres and Hartlepool College of Further Education that has entered its fifth year this September.

Wearside-based Unipres (UK) has sent the new cohort of 12 Level 3 maintenance apprentices to Teesside already this month.

There are 11 enrolling who have just completed a Level 3 apprenticeship with the College last year will start their day release of their Level 4 higher engineering apprenticeship on September 20, along with a safety, health and environmental technician apprentice.

Rob Dodds, Training Academy controller at Unipres (UK), said: “We have a history with Hartlepool College. What originally set them apart is that it wasn’t a case of them telling us what they would expect, they asked us what we wanted. They tailored everything for what we needed.

“One of the first barriers was the distance between us, but the College offered a minibus down to the college and back every day. It worked to our advantage.”

The apprentices are expected at Unipres’ Sunderland site for 7.15am every day in order for them to travel down to Hartlepool College to start work an hour later. They return at 4.45pm.

Rob said: “What it has meant is that we have had a chance to really get to know the apprentices because they are here all of the time, we can discuss any concerns before they head off. We have been able to monitor them. It’s been brilliant.

“They have felt a bigger part of Unipres from the off, even though we are a global corporation where every plant operates exactly the same – we like to say we are ‘creating a single world’ as we transport components all over European and beyond.”

Unipres (UK) is the focal point of operations in Europe and is a manufacturer of press-formed automotive components at its 127,000m2 plant.

Every employee must wear the royal blue uniform with the Unipres logo and that is no different for those apprentices who spend the day at Hartlepool College.

Gary Riches, assistant principal at Hartlepool College, said: “They will travel in a uniform for when they are around College and then change into workshop flame retardant uniform when they work. They are noticeable around College throughout the day in blue.

“It’s making others take notice. The apprentices are from all over the North-East and we have some Unipres apprentices from Hartlepool now, we haven’t in previous years.”

Unipres (UK)’s relationship with Hartlepool College highlights how successful they are at fulfilling the needs of the employers they work with.

Gary said: “The relationship between myself, Rob and the directors at Unipres is very strong. It is an open, honest, transparent relationship. From my point of view their recruitment and selection process is outstanding.

“The calibre of apprentice is extremely high. It also shows the calibre of employer this College partners with. This is the place to study engineering, whether you are a full-time learner or in higher education, this is it.”

The original 2017 cohort of Unipres (UK) apprentices at Hartlepool College are those starting Level 4 later this month.

• Pictured above (left to right): Unipres apprentices James Miller, Dan Hall, James Dunbar, Jack Vasey, Josh Whatcott, Jacob Ord, Josh Coulton, Aidan Turner, Liam Tate, Merlin Walls, Josh Rackstraw, Jack Middlemas on site before boarding the mini-bus with Unipres’ training academy controller Rob Dodds and Hartlepool College’s assistant principal Gary Riches.