An apprentice from South Tyneside has his career in gear after changing direction to train with Mercedes-Benz.
Jak Costello, 17, has proved the value of picking the right road to learning by switching course to work at the illustrious car company’s Newcastle dealership.
He put the brakes on studying welding after sizing up his options with apprenticeship specialists at South Tyneside College.
Their close links to the region’s employers made them the first to know about a prized apprenticeship in the body shop at Mercedes-Benz’s dealership off Scotswood Road, which is operated by Sytner North East, part of Sytner Group.
Jak, from South Shields, is now learning to polish, paint and prepare the illustrious marque while learning a full package of professional skills that will set him up for life.
He said: “I started out learning welding but felt there was something waiting for me that I could apply myself to far better.
“Mercedes’ reputation for quality is well known, and I didn’t need any persuasion to grab this great opportunity.
“It’s highly skilled work, which sees me in the body shop preparing cars for paint work, learning how to carry repairs, and many other varied and important tasks.
“I’ve settled in really well and the team are friendly and very helpful. I’m delighted at the support I receive from the college and can’t recommend the work it does around apprenticeship highly enough. I now have a hugely promising future.”
Jak is being expertly tutored by body shop manager Jamie Smith, 38, for four days a week and by college tutors on a fifth.
For more on apprenticeships, call 0191 427 3500 or visiting www.stc.ac.uk
Alison Maynard, Principal of South Tyneside College’s Professional and Vocational College, added: “Jak started on a welding course with us but mentioned he also had an interest in cars.
“When the apprenticeship at Mercedes came to our attention, we knew it could be for him. He was offered an interview and selected after doing very well.
“Not many people get an opportunity like this, and I’m delighted that he is making the most of it.
“It is a perfect example of how one of our high quality apprenticeships can make a real difference to a young person with the ambition to work hard and do well for themselves.”
Jamie, a life-long devotee of learning about prestigious cars, said: “Jak very much reminds me of how I was at his age, which is keen to learn and having a genuine interest in the job.
“I started by learning about MGs, a make a car that still excites me, and likewise Jak is training with a classic make of vehicle.
“He’s taken to his apprenticeship like a duck to water and has shown great early promise. Without doubt, he possesses the qualities of hard work, commitment and talent that are vital to success in this industry.
“I tell him to treat each car as if it is his own, and he has shown a great application to detail.
“I’m delighted with his progress and with the support I have received throughout his training from South Tyneside College’s apprenticeship team.”
At the end of his two-year apprenticeship, Jak is expected to become a permanent employee at the dealership.
The college’s general apprenticeship provision includes engineering, business, marketing, IT, hospitality and catering, and hairdressing and beauty therapy.
It also runs pre-apprenticeships and traineeships – shorter training programmes of up to six months that get people work ready.
Information on Mercedes-Benz Newcastle is available by calling 0191 447 9090 or visiting www.mercedes-benzofnewcastle.co.uk