A young student has engineered his way to an apprenticeship at an experienced control panel manufacturer.
Tom Spencer has built workplace skills through Middlesbrough College’s new T Level programme and landed himself an apprenticeship at HC Controls – a Stockton-based design and manufacturing specialist of industrial control panels.
The 17-year-old, from Billingham, is training to be a panel wireman under the guidance of the experienced team at HC Controls, learning how to use key tools.
HC Controls has been working with Middlesbrough College as part of a pilot scheme to develop T-Level Industry Placements, to provide students like Tom with work placement opportunities.
Helen Bullivant, financial director at HC Controls, said: “When the College presented us with the T Level programme, we thought it was a great way of giving students real workplace experience to prepare them for industry.
“It can be difficult for young people to gain work experience while studying, so a T Level placement of between 45-60 days is a really good opportunity for learners to gain those hands-on skills to prepare them for their next steps.
“Tom really impressed us on his T Level industry placement with his willingness to work and the skills he’d developed so it was an easy decision to offer him a full-time apprenticeship.
“Many of the people who work here have come from an apprenticeship background – we see that as the best way to take the business forward.”
T Levels have been developed with employers to equip learners with the skills they need to enter the world of work.
The courses, which will be equivalent to three A Levels, include work placements of at least 45 days – allowing students to get essential hands-on experience in their chosen industry.
Katharine Hawking is industry placement manager at Northern Skills Group – Middlesbrough College’s training and apprenticeship arm. She explained: “The team at HC Controls knows that it can get a lot out of students who are workplace ready, and come to the business trained in key skills with a solid background knowledge in the sector.
“This type of skill building, from the ground-up, has significant benefits for both students and local employers. Companies can adapt training to suit their specific needs and build genuine loyalty among young staff.
“For students, the T Level pathway provides them with a competitive edge through the work placement and give them more chance of progressing straight into employment upon completion.
“The fact that Tom has been able to move straight into an apprenticeship demonstrates how the T Level qualification is all about developing those vital work place skills, so sought after by employers.
“We’re already helping a number of local employers to take advantage of T Level industry placements and are on hand to offer advice or