A FORMER apprentice at one of the North East’s oldest engineering firms is teaching the next generation the nuts and bolts of the business.
Almost 45 years after he completed his own apprenticeship at British Engines, Trevor Johnson, operations director at its South Shields subsidiary company, Rotary Power, is supervising its 11 current apprentices.
Newcastle-based British Engines consists of six businesses, including Rotary Power, designing and manufacturing components for the oil, gas, chemical and marine industries, among others.
Over the past 60 years, more than 600 people have joined the firm through its in-house apprenticeship programme, and it continues to take on 20 apprentices a year.
Mr Johnson said: “Apprentices are a very important part of our business.
“We’ll even pay for them to do a degree course if they have potential and are passionate about the industry.”
Like Trevor, Alex Forshaw joined British Engines straight from school, and he is now nearing the end of his four-year apprenticeship at Rotary Power.
He said: “I’m enjoying everything about it. It was quite hard at first, but nowhere else would have given me the opportunities I’ve got here.”
As well as training on the job, Alex has been studying for a higher national certificate in manufacturing engineering, and he hopes to join the firm’s graduate scheme.
He added: “I’d really like to get a degree and maybe go on to become a production engineer.
“I just want to push myself and see how far I can go.”
Coun Alan Kerr, deputy leader of South Tyneside Council, said: “British Engines is a North East success story.
“It has given hundreds of people the chance to embark on a wide variety of careers within the manufacturing industry and is proof that apprenticeships have a crucial part to play in business and the regional economy.”
British Engines has recently invested in five new machine tools, which have just been delivered to the new Rotary Power facility in South Shields and will be used specifically to train apprentices, as part of the Apprenticeship+ scheme.
LEARNING THE TRADE ... Rotary Power apprentice Alex Forshaw, front, with South Tyneside Council deputy leader Coun Alan Kerr and Trevor Johnson.