A talented young apprentice has landed his dream job at one of the world’s leading hygiene product manufacturers after the firm developed a special training programme with a Tyneside college.

Rhys Smith, who is 18 from West Denton, has embarked on a technical apprenticeship at SCA Hygiene after completing a pre-apprenticeship scheme at Gateshead College.

The First Diploma in Manufacturing and Engineering equips students with the knowledge and discipline to forge a career in engineering, including key aspects of the manufacturing environment and production facilities. The course and its lecturers present students with exclusive opportunities to gain an apprenticeship, as well as allowing students to get up to speed so they’re able to hit the ground running at their company from day one of their apprenticeship.

Rhys is now located at Prudhoe-based SCA Hygiene Mill, which is the sole UK producer of the company’s Velvet toilet tissue.

Apprentice team leader at SCA Hygiene, Ian Callender, said: “Rhys is doing very well in his role and we look forward to seeing his progression. More than 75% of our apprentices are kept on in permanent, full-time roles when they finish their course, and they often climb the career ladder at SCA, taking on senior roles like project engineers or team leaders.

“The apprentices are hugely beneficial to our business. We have been working with Gateshead College for three years now and the partnership really works for us.

“The training is adapted to the precise needs of our business, which enables us to maximise productivity and performance. We also have a member of the Gateshead College team in on a full-time basis to help us train the apprentices, which is very helpful.”

The Level 3 Technical Apprenticeship developed by SCA and Gateshead College covers a range of areas, including quality standards, health and safety management, risk assessment and impact of manufacturing processes on the environment. Apprentices work while attending college once a week throughout the four-year course.

Rhys said: “The pre-apprenticeship introductory course at Gateshead College really prepared me for my apprenticeship with SCA Hygiene.

“I am really enjoying the experience as I get to learn in a real working environment with guidance from employers and assessors, while also earning a wage.”

Ivan Jepson, director of business development at Gateshead College said: “Rhys is a fantastic example of how we can help students into work through a range of routes. The pre-apprenticeship introductory course helped Rhys by preparing him for a professional working environment, and his following apprenticeship is now training him to be a skilled worker in the engineering industry.

“Our relationship with SCA Hygiene has helped to assist the company and meet its business needs, providing a productive, professional and skilled workforce. We take each of our partner’s business objectives and design a bespoke training apprenticeship to ensure they are productive and profitable.”

To find out more about Gateshead College and the business courses on offer, visit www.gateshead.ac.uk