Robert Halfon was shown the ropes at car parts manufacturer Unipres by a team of apprentices, who tutored the minister on some plant equipment.
Mr Halfon visited the Sunderland factory during a whistle-stop tour of the region where he spoke with some of the region’s largest employers at the forefront of the apprenticeship agenda and visited colleges.
He said: “I’ve really enjoyed seeing apprenticeships in action today at Unipres and getting stuck in myself working with robots in the training facility.
“We are committed to developing the skilled workforce our engineering industry needs now and in the future. It’s great to see Unipres doing just that by expanding its apprenticeship programme and giving people a ladder of opportunity to thrive.”
Unipres recently received an award from the National Apprenticeship Service in recognition of its commitment and support as an employer investing in apprenticeships and currently has 63 apprentices on site at various stages of their training.
Mr Halfon was put through his paces by Unipres Apprentice Ambassador, Rhys Goulden, 22, who said: “You only get out of life what you put into it and we know here that if we work hard, we can make a successful career at Unipres.
“Apprenticeships work and the prospects here are fantastic for anyone lucky enough to secure a position.”
Based in Sunderland for 27 years, Unipres employs more than 1,100, providing steel components to car makers including Nissan, Renault and Honda.
The business works tirelessly to encourage young people into engineering. It is part of the Industrial Cadets initiative and the Trailblazer Apprenticeships programme.
With a well-established apprenticeship programme – Unipres recruited 25 apprentices last year alone.
Unipres Plant Director, John Cruddace said: “To have our apprenticeship programme recognised as an exemplar in industry by a Government minister is something to be proud of.
“We work incredibly hard – as do our apprentices – to ensure all of our new recruits are provided with the best possible education and introduction into our company. I think we have one of the best workforces in UK automotive manufacturing.”
Sunderland City Council works closely with Unipres and is supporting the company in its efforts to establish an apprenticeship training academy.
Deputy Leader, Coun Harry Trueman, said: “Unipres is a fine example of a business that is taking traditional North East engineering skills and using them in modern innovative manufacturing environment.
“The apprenticeships here are incredible and Rhys is a fine example of an enthusiastic and dedicated young man and with a few more like him, the future of Unipres is in safe hands.”