College Chief Goes Back To The Floor

Mon, 14/05/2001 - 01:00

East Durham College Vice Principal Andrew Phillips Measures Up Rain Screen Cladding With Apprentice Andrew Cook

A college vice principal became an apprentice for the day and undertook a variety of tasks with four different local employers.

Andrew Phillips, Vice Principal for Business Development at East Durham College, took time out from his busy week to work alongside apprentices at Sotech, Mecaplast, Seraph Hair Salon and Whitelea Farm.

Mr Phillips decided to take part in the ‘back to the floor’ style experience as part of National Apprenticeship Week. He wanted to see at first hand the positive contribution apprentices make to the workplace but also to experience it from their point of view.

First up Mecaplast got Mr Phillips collating the orders and deliveries for a major car manufacturer. Then at Sotech he worked at getting an aluminium press ready for operation.

In the afternoon, he helped out at the Seraph Hair Salon where fortunately for customers he was prevented from picking up any scissors but much to the amusement of staff picked up a broom to clean the salon floor.

Finally, he visited Whitelea Farm where he met 18 year old apprentice Tyler Foster whose skills were already a dazzling mix of animal management, machinery maintenance, calving, feeding, bricklaying, fencing and welding.

“I’ve taken many positives away from today. Not only has the experience reminded me of when I started out on my own career but also just how important it is to properly train and support young people.

“It’s great to witness first hand what a fantastic job the apprentices do and see exactly what they can bring to an organisation and the positive impact this has on business and therefore the wider economy. All four employers had apprentices at the heart of their growth strategies.

“It’s been a really enjoyable day and it was exciting to roll up my sleeves and try out lots of interesting different job roles,” remarked Mr Phillips.

Another apprentice involved in the day was manufacturing apprentice Andrew Cook, aged 19, from Easington, who started on his apprenticeship at Sotech back in May 2011.

“I love it. I think apprenticeships are mint because I get to earn money while I get a qualification and hopefully a better chance of getting a good job at the end of it. It was good fun to show Mr Philips the skills I have learnt,” said Andrew.

Richard Egginton, Operations Manager at Sotech in Peterlee, added: “We take on apprentices because we like to train them from scratch and believe you then get the best out of them that way.

“We currently have three apprentices from East Durham College and I can genuinely say they are the best ones we have ever had!

“Our apprentices contribute massively to the company and are critical to the future success of the business. We aim to train all of our apprenticed to the highest standard and most are offered a contract upon completion and that they then stay with us for the next 20 to 30 year, helping to maintain Sotech’s excellent reputation and quality standards.”

Sotech has been manufacturing a range of engineered architectural metal façade systems, such as rainscreen cladding panels, at its facility in Peterlee since 1982 where it currently employers 35 staff.