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25 years’ service for Nichola, in male-dominated industry

ByDave Stopher

Mar 5, 2024

A Malton-based training and apprenticeship provider is celebrating 25 years’ service for one of its employees this International Women’s Day and National Careers Week, despite women continuing to be underrepresented in the engineering industry.

Nichola Zanda joined the business in 1999 as a receptionist, having previously worked in the travel industry. During her time in this role she was trained to use the data systems, which led to her being promoted into the senior team in 2018. Her new position as Business Support Manager saw her become line manager the whole business support team, in addition to other new responsibilities.

The Business Support department includes marketing, sales, funding, registrar functions, assessing all apprentice applicants before onboarding starts, conducting onboarding and assessing additional learning support needs, and coordinating support functions to ensure the business simply functions.

CEO, Claire Gavaghan said: “When I first arrived as CEO, I think it is fair to say that Nikki was unsure of her own abilities. However it was evident to me that she was more than capable if she was encouraged to follow her instinct because she had acquired a vast amount of knowledge.

“I gave Nikki space to take the lead once the direction and strategy was agreed and finalised. She always seeks guidance when needed but quite simply – she has flown. She has my full confidence when speaking to the Department of Education or any auditor. I have certainly seen her as an integral part of the Derwent Training team during the five years I have been here. I congratulate her on her 25 years at an independent training provider – just think of the number of apprentices she has supported, what a phenomenal achievement.”

Research conducted in 2022* shows that women make up 16.5 per cent of all UK engineers, and females represent 23 per cent of the construction and utilities workforce, but there is a target in place to grow these figures to at least 30 per cent by 2030.

Nichola said: “I started as a young woman who moved across from working in the travel industry and the education sector was completely new to me. I am proud to have worked my way up in the company and have seen a lot of changes both in the education sector and the company as it has grown. It has not always been easy, however I have been able to make a significant contribution to its success and stability. Looking back, I smile at the young woman who was not sure she would stay but look at me now!”

Derwent Training recently launched its Leadership & Management apprenticeship which directly addresses a gap in education provision as detailed by the York and North Yorkshire LEP Business Board.

Derwent Training Association, which was founded 35 years ago, has earned an enviable reputation for its engineering apprenticeships – achieving a 98 per cent employer satisfaction score (January 2023) and is rated ‘good’ by OFSTED. Following a report released by the LEP which described a lack of leadership training in the region being a core cause of holding back productivity, the Derwent Training team decided to invest in making this available to boost the local economy.

The national qualification achievement rate target for apprenticeships is 67%, and nationally the achievement in Engineering Apprenticeships is 58% (currently) – at Derwent Training, the current rate is 78%.

The company provides training to apprentices, employers and individuals to build skills and improve employability across Yorkshire and the North East from its training centre in Malton, where it can offer face-to-face delivery such as level three and level four apprenticeships, as well as online delivery to upskill employees through bespoke training and CPD courses.