Two young North East men have taken their first steps onto the career ladder after being chosen as County Durham-headquartered property and energy firm The Banks Group’s latest apprentices.
Matthew Fletcher (18) from Sunderland and Cameron Cook (19) from Hartlepool beat 140 applicants for the two fabricator/welder apprenticeships, which will see them undertake a comprehensive three year training programme combining on the job practical training with theoretical classroom-based learning at South West Durham Training in Newton Aycliffe.
The apprenticeships are based at the family-owned firm’s Thrislington depot in West Cornforth, which houses its fabrication workshops, and the new recruits will be working directly with highly experienced Banks staff to learn workplace skills that will be vital to them through their entire working lives.
The Banks Group’s apprenticeship recruitment programme has been run in conjunction with South West Durham Training, which is part of Bishop Auckland College, and involved a number of different stages.
After the initial number of applications was whittled down to 14, senior members of The Banks Group team attended a candidate day at South West Durham Training to present a company overview to the potential recruits and detail the work they would be undertaking should they be successful.
Seven candidates were then chosen to attend an assessment day at the Thrislington site, which included a combination of computer-based assessments through the company’s In-Struct system, a practical welding test, and feedback sessions via individual interviews.
Keith Tarn, group human resources manager at The Banks Group, says: “One of the key challenges for any business is ensuring that it keeps adding to and improving its workforce’s skills base and thereby managing succession by making the best use possible of the expertise of highly-experienced staff who can help young recruits learn on the job.
“A great deal of careful planning has gone into designing these apprenticeships to ensure they help Matthew and Cameron develop skills that will serve them well throughout their entire working lives, as well as enabling them to add to the capabilities of our highly-skilled workforce.
“We were very impressed with the calibre of candidates that were put forward for us to consider, and their personal and practical capabilities left us with a very difficult decision to make over which two to choose.
“Matthew and Cameron are enthusiastic young men who produced good educational grades together with high standards of practical application, and they both came across really well at interview.
“They now have an excellent opportunity to start forging successful careers for themselves by developing new skills both in the classroom and on the job.”
Richard Wright, business development advisor at Bishop Auckland College, adds: “This was a hugely competitive recruitment process, with 140 applicants for the two apprenticeships and many excellent candidates, so Matthew and Cameron did very well at interview to secure the positions.
“We were delighted to assist The Banks Group with their apprenticeship search and look forward to Matthew and Cameron joining us on day release at South West Durham Training.”