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From an Apprentice to Apprenticeship Boss

Gary Riches - Head of Apprenticeships HCFE

We have appointed Gary Riches as Head of Apprenticeships, coming full circle after completing his award-winning apprenticeship with us over 18 years ago.The College, which is ranked number one in the North East for apprenticeships, allowed Gary to start his career as an apprentice electrician in the year 2000, when he was employed by Tees Valley firm Gus Robinson Developments. His high performance for the local construction company was recognised with three consecutive apprenticeship of the year awards.

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. Gary said: “Around about that time the workload within my role was pretty tough. We’d been through the height of the recession so it wasn’t a great time for the industry. My wife and I were expecting twins so I knew I needed to re-evaluate and find something which would allow me to look after them and give me enough time to spend with my new family. There was an advertisement about an opportunity to be a lecturer of engineering at the College. I got in touch with a few of the people that taught me all those years ago to see if they thought I’d be a good fit for the job. They agreed, so I applied. It was a great feeling to come into the role because many of the people who I was working with taught me. I was welcomed straight away and everyone in the school had been supportive of me and got me through the trials of my first few 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.

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