Schoolgirl’s week as a Nissan cadet

Sophie Williams (left) with fellow Discovery School pupils at Nissan.
Sophie Williams (left) with fellow Discovery School pupils at Nissan.

Student Sophie Williams has hit the fast lane with classmates.

The 15-year-old, of South Shields, was one of a group who spent a week at Nissan’s Washington plant learning new skills and gaining work experience as industrial cadets.

The 16 youngsters were split into two groups, which competed against each other throughout the week to construct mini-cars in the quickest time possible.

Sophie said: “Coming to Nissan has given us a chance to experience how industry works.

“I want to work in engineering or design, so it has really given me a taste of what it would be like.”

Over the course of the week, the youngsters set up an assembly line, carried out production trials and put into practice manufacturing tools and techniques by fine-tuning their communication, organisational and teambuilding skills.

They also got to experience the Nissan training facilities, where the Japanese firm’s new starters and training supervisors are taught.

Nissan’s Martin Abele said: “It’s a great course for young people who are interested in engineering and manufacturing because it shows them the importance of a whole range of things, from getting the technical design right to quality assurance, efficiency, speed and communication with your colleagues.

“The week has shown them how important it is to constantly strive to improve what you are doing because the smallest of tweaks could make a massive difference to what you are producing.”

The week was organised by the Nissan Skills Foundation, set up to help the company engage with schools across the region.

Trainer Robert Scott said the industrial cadetship helped to prepare young people for the world of work.

“We treat students like we treat employees, so they have to come here with a professional manner and with a willingness to work hard. We expect the highest standards.

“The students from Discovery School have been a privilege to teach.”

The youngsters taking part were from the new Discovery School in Newcastle, opened in September. It specialises in science, technology, engineering and maths and offers traditional GCSEs and A-levels.

Principal Wendy Allen said: “We are very grateful to Nissan for the time they have spent with our students. They have had a great experience.”