North East Connected

Marathon journey for apprentice Annie to engineer career success

Screen Shot 2016-01-18 at 09.28.21Schoolgirl budding apprentice Annie Wilson is completing a 125-mile round trip everyday to ensure she achieves her dream of becoming an engineer.

Annie, 17, rises at 5am each day for the journey from her home in Berwick-upon-Tweed to the Engineering Training Centre on Newcastle’s Scotswood Road to learn from some of the country’s top engineering instructors.

Such is her determination to follow her father into an engineering career, that she enrolled as a pupil at Newcastle’s Excelsior Academy Sixth Form College which has a highly successful partnership with the training centre.

Twenty-four Excelsior sixth formers are hand-picked each year for the opportunity to work towards a four-year apprenticeship programme with the Engineering Training Centre, learning the skills prized by top employers across the country.

A year of training centre learning and school classroom-based study will be followed by a potential three-year placement at a top North East engineering firm for Annie and the promise of a successful career.

Training centre staff are impressed by her skills, attitude and enthusiasm – as well as her sheer determination to get to work on time each day by 7.30am.

“It’s a long way to travel everyday but it’s worth it,” said Annie, who takes the train and a bus to reach the Engineering Training Centre each morning and then back home every night.

“My friends thought it was crazy but when I told them what I’m doing and where it could lead, they think it’s not as crazy as it sounded at first.”

Annie’s 13-hour days, five days a week, are already paying off. She is learning essential new skills such as welding, fabrication, machining, computer-aided design and electrical wiring.

Her programme also sees her studying engineering, maths, physics and IT at Excelsior Academy.

Annie took the huge decision not to stay with her friends in further education in Berwick, to pursue an apprenticeship place with the Engineering Training Centre – located within the Michell Bearings factory on Scotswood Road.

“When I found out about the apprenticeship I knew I wanted to do it,” said Annie.

“I had already started sixth form doing subjects I didn’t want to be doing and I came for a test here to see if they would accept me as an apprentice candidate.

“They accepted me and I went to Excelsior to visit. It’s a good school and it works with the Engineering Training Centre which is great.

“It’s a big school and it was quite weird at first because I didn’t know anyone. But I’ve made new friends since I came here and I really enjoy it.

“The staff in the training centre think that it shows my dedication to become an engineer. I’ve learnt lots of different ways to do things I wouldn’t have known about and it’s made me more confident as a person.”

Excelsior Academy specialises in business enterprise, preparing its pupils for life after education. Its partnership with the Engineering Training Centre is made possible by the generous financial support of academy sponsor Lord Laidlaw.

Formerly known as the Rolls-Royce North East Training Centre, the Engineering Training Centre offers apprenticeships and pre-apprenticeship training in mechanical, fabrication, electrical and general engineering at NVQ Levels 2 and 3.

It works with a pool of about 200 North East engineering firms, providing apprentices to meet their skills requirements. It has a highly successful track record of placing apprentices with top employers who offer superb career opportunities to the talented youngsters.

Steven Bolton, Engineering Training Centre Manager, said: “Annie’s sheer determination to be here everyday to learn has impressed us all.

“She is always on time each day and staff working with her have commented about her positive attitude, willingness to learn and the initiative she shows in her work.

“Annie made a brave decision to take up her apprenticeship and I’m sure a bright future career in engineering awaits her.”

Annie’s technology teacher at Excelsior Academy, Joe Temple, said: “We are all impressed by the determination Annie has to achieve her dream of an engineering career.

“To show such drive to learn and achieve at such a young age will undoubtedly open doors for her with employers in future, and we will support her in every way we can to realise her ambition.”

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