Apprenticeships are a great way to launch a career, or even a way of changing career for one of the five apprentices currently combining their studies with working here at HPP. And with it being National Apprenticeship Week 2024 (5th-11th Feb), now is the perfect time to see how they're all getting on.
Ellis Smith became our oldest apprentice last May when at the age of 32 he embarked on a career change by swapping his office-based role as a production planning administrator to join our mechanical maintenance team.
He is now working on his Level 2 Maintenance and Operations Engineering Technician apprenticeship with Oldham Training Centre (OTC) - where he's earning great reports from his mentors - before he moves on to the Level 3 qualification, a plan that maps out a three-year career path for the dad-of-three from Fitton Hill, in Oldham.
Ellis, who served four years in the Royal Engineers before joining us nine years ago, says: "The army train you in a trade, but you don't come away with a formal qualification, which is why doing the apprenticeships is so good. But thanks to what I learned in the army, I'm being trusted to do jobs that someone so new to the team probably wouldn't be doing."
His day-release apprenticeship sees Ellis undertake installation, testing, servicing, removal, replacement, maintenance and repair of a range of equipment, sometimes in complex situations, as part of planned preventative and reactive maintenance programmes. He has 12 months to complete Level 2 and two years for Level 3, which will include a bespoke module - Hand Fitting Techniques - particularly relevant to his role with us.
Our 'oldest' apprentice in the sense of nearing the completion of his studies is Level 2 Supply Chain Warehouse Operative Warren Booth, who is hoping for a distinction when his apprenticeship finishes.
The 19-year-old, also from Fitton Hill, first started with us on a government-funded, 8-week traineeship, through North Lancs Training Group, from which he emerged with flying colours to land his apprenticeship.
He is part of the five-man team in our Fittings warehouse and says: "I'm hoping to come out of the apprenticeship with a good qualification and have a better future progressing to more senior jobs at work."
Another apprentice earning good reviews is Content Creator Tony K, who was named Apprentice of the Month by his training provider, Baltic Apprenticeships, in late 2023.
Tony started with us in spring 2023 and is completing his Level 3 Content Creator Apprenticeship under the guidance of Assistant Marketing Manager Kenika Gumbs, who nominated him for the award.
She says: "Tony is an extraordinary individual whose achievements are nothing short of fantastic. Despite facing the challenges of ADHD, he has not only persevered but has excelled in various areas, showcasing his exceptional talents and unwavering determination."
A keen photographer and videographer since childhood, this is Tony's first full-time job in marketing, and he says he was attracted to the role because of its potential to grow and develop.
He says: "This is the first time ever I've been excited about coming into work. I'm getting great content done and I now want to refine my skills and learn new ones."
Meanwhile, Level 2 Furniture Manufacturer apprentice Ellie Shepherd told of her double motivation to do well - proving a point and showing what girls can achieve in a manufacturing industry - when she became our first female apprentice in a shopfloor role last summer.
She decided to pursue a manual apprenticeship after seeing her 19-year-old brother Sam working as a cabinet maker - and was even more determined when her decision met with scepticism in some quarters.
Ellie, from Chadderton, who is due to finish her apprenticeship in the summer, says: "I was told I should think about working in a pharmacy, or some kind of work like that. But when I saw what my brother was doing, I said that's what I wanted to do, and even though people said I wouldn't be able to, I said I was going to prove everybody wrong!
"I want to get as many qualifications as I can to go higher in the company, becoming a supervisor and even a manager. And I want to prove that a girl can do that."
Finally, our newest apprentice is Accounts Assistant Olivia Saint-McCormick, who has just started her 18-month Level 3 Accounting and Finance qualification.
She is studying one day per week at Oldham College, where she's already spent a year studying for and passing her Level 2 exams.
Since joining us last September, Olivia's been working on invoices and the purchase ledger, as she gathers the knowledge and experience she needs to pass the four modules that make up her qualification, which is seen as the equivalent of an A-Level.
She says: "I am really enjoying everything I have to do. The people are really nice and very helpful. I'd love to carry on and do my Level 4, after I've passed my Level 3, of course!" Olivia, aged 19 and from Limeside, first became interested in finance as it was a role her mum used to work in.
Our five current apprentices are the latest in a long line of those who have carved out a career with our support.
Our first ever apprentice, trainee accountant Julia Heap, who joined us 25 years ago, has gone on to become CEO at Hopwood Hall College and University Centre in Middleton following a successful career in local government finance.
National Apprenticeship Week 2024 - https://naw.appawards.co.uk