Apprenticeship power is being put on show at an event looking to inspire apprentices of all ages.
Hartlepool College of Further Education is opening its doors to potential apprentices again with its Big Apprenticeship Event.
The event will take place on Thursday March 7 to tie in with National Apprenticeship Week and will be attended by employers looking to promote a variety of apprenticeship opportunities.
Gary Riches, head of Apprenticeships and Employer Services at Hartlepool College of Further Education, said: "At Hartlepool College, we are proud of the quality of our apprenticeship delivery and the success it brings to the hundreds of companies we work with throughout the region.
"Hartlepool College of FE is the region's leading apprenticeship provider and we have been successfully delivering apprenticeships for over 50 years.
"This has given us the experience and knowledge needed to ensure we best support the many hundreds of organisations that we work with.
"These companies range from multinational engineering companies to local SMEs across a wide variety of industries.
"If you're interested in finding out how an apprenticeship can benefit you then come and see why we are the best choice for your apprenticeship provision in the area."
Attending the event will be a number of large employers in the region including: Seymour Civil Engineering, Thirteen Group, TATA Steel, EDF, Gestamp Tallent, Unipres and Cleveland Bridge.
Sapphire Heselton, 19, who is currently an apprentice of maintenance technology, said: "By undertaking an apprenticeship I realised just how much opportunity there is to learn every day. I've been able to gain so much on the job experience in a range of different areas in the auto parts manufacturing sector such as on-site electrical training, pneumatics and hydraulics.
"When I received the letter to say I'd been given an apprenticeship I was over the moon - and then I started worrying about what the others on the course were going to be like! I needn't have worried though as everyone has been so helpful.
"I didn't know if there were going to be any other women on the scheme. It turns out there was one other woman on the course. But it didn't matter as I realised regardless of gender we were all in the same boat. We had a brilliant time and some great laughs. We all just got on with the work at hand.
"At first, my mum encouraged me to follow a traditional academic path but after she realised how much I enjoyed hands on work, engineering and science, she supported my decision.
"She now sees me coming home from work black as anything, pitted with muck with grease in my hair and she understands it was the right path for me."
Craig Lyons, 42, is an apprentice toolmaker at Gestamop Tallent. He shed some light on is experience, saying: "I was already working at Gestamp on the presses when the opportunity for the apprenticeship came up.
"I knew it was probably going to be one of my last chances to move up the ladder and at my age, I thought ‘it's now or never'. The quality of my working life has increased massively. You have to be happy in what you're doing day to day and it was important that I did something for me and be proud of what I was doing.
"I was worried at first. I'm married with two kids and a house, so I was worried about the monetary side of it. On top of that I hadn't been in education since 1993.
"I was thinking ‘am I going to be able to do it?' and ‘has it all changed?' I didn't know how hard education was going to be at the start. But after a while - and a lot of support, guidance and help - it's been brilliant. I've not had to worry since.
"My family and friends are really proud of what I'm doing and have supported me a lot throughout the process.
"If you're a little older and you're thinking about going for an apprenticeship I say go for it 100% and don't look back. You'll never look back on the decision.
The Big Apprenticeship Event takes place at Hartlepool College of Further Education on Thursday, March 7 at 5:30pm.
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