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Unipres (UK) and College Triumph in Record-breaking Apprenticeship Success

Hartlepool College’s Chris King, head of engineering apprentices, and Gary Riches, assistant principal, with Level 3 maintenance technician apprentice Larry Wagner, Level 4 dye maintenance technician apprentice Jack Vasey, junior engineer Level 4 apprentice Megan Gorman and Unipres’ apprenticeships lead Rob Dodds as well as Level 3 and Level 4 apprentices with Unipres at College. Picture: HCFE
Left to Right: Hartlepool College’s Chris King, head of engineering apprentices, and Gary Riches, assistant principal, with Level 3 maintenance technician apprentice Larry Wagner, Level 4 DYE Maintenance Technician Apprentice; Jack Vasey, Junior Engineer Level 4 Apprentice; Megan Gorman and Unipres’ Apprenticeships Lead;Rob Dodds as well as Level 3 and Level 4 apprentices with Unipres at College. Picture: HCFE

A six-year Tees-Wear partnership that propels young workers toward successful careers has achieved its highest-ever intake. Following September’s new 20-strong cohort,  the College and Sunderland-based car body parts company Unipres (UK) are currently training more than 60 apprentices.

Among those who regularly make the trip up and down the A19 wearing recognizable blue uniforms, in a training bus provided by the College, is the first-ever female to qualify as a junior engineer at Unipres through an apprenticeship. Megan Gorman, from Shotton, County Durham, is one of the shining examples of how well the College and Unipres have combined efforts to get more young people into work and achieve high standards.

Rob Dodds, Unipres’ apprenticeships lead, said: “Unipres UK first approached Hartlepool College in 2017 about taking our Level 3 apprenticeship provision. “What was different from the start was they asked us what we wanted. Working with the College, we designed an apprenticeship program that suits our needs. Today shows the trust and faith we have in the College to provide the level of education and training we require to secure the future talent pipeline to maintain a highly skilled workforce. We now have more than 60 apprentices at Levels 3 and 4 and started 20 Level 3 apprentices this year; the highest number of engineering technicians we have taken on in one cohort.Our partnership has grown each year, and we look forward to working with the College for many years to come.”

Hartlepool College’s assistant principal Gary Riches said: “We are extremely proud to continue our partnership with Unipres. It’s a real coup for the College to work with an international organization. When we first started the partnership in 2017, the apprentices recruited that year lived north of Hartlepool, and we now see Hartlepool College students being recruited to Unipres apprenticeships. This highlights how we are improving the life chances of people in Hartlepool by giving them opportunities to work with international organizations.Unipres has more apprentices with us than any other organization. This shows that by allowing the employer to choose what training and skills they require, it encourages them to heavily invest in its future workforce.”

Megan, 24, has progressed from a full-time Level 2 apprenticeship to a Level 4 HNC qualification involving a day release from Unipres for the last two years.

She said: “I was originally set on A-levels and going to university, but the College came along, and I realized there was an alternative. Now, these years later, I’m very proud of myself for becoming Unipres’ first-ever female apprentice to be promoted to junior engineer in assembly engineering since the plant opened in 1987.Hopefully, that will set the benchmark for others to follow. That would be fantastic. I don’t want to stop here. I have enjoyed the studies, the apprenticeship, and the work. After finishing my NVQ, hopefully, I will go on to claim a degree in electrical engineering.”

For further information about Unipres’ Level 2 apprenticeship, check out https://unipres.co.uk/level-2-lean-manufacturing-operative-apprenticeship/

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