Connecting classrooms with careers across the Tees Valley.

7th, February 2022

National Apprenticeship Week – Build the future; write your story

As we mark National Apprenticeship Week, we’ve pulled together some recent apprenticeship stories from a diverse range of industries across the Tees Valley. Could it be time to write yours?

Industry Insight, Student Stories

Now in its 15th year, the annual seven-day celebration brings together businesses and apprentices to shine a light on the positive impact that apprenticeships make to individuals, organisations and the wider economy.

The theme for this year’s event is ‘build the future’ — reflecting how apprenticeships can help individuals to develop the skills and knowledge required for a rewarding career. Similarly for businesses, there’s a focus on developing potential and nurturing a workforce that’s equipped with future-ready skills.


As a crucial link between young people and businesses, apprenticeships play a key role in our work. Alongside connecting classrooms with careers, our unique programmes and work experiences give students the chance to engage directly with employers, increase understanding of opportunities, improve skills and raise aspirations.

So much so, a number of students have progressed directly from High Tide programmes to the world of work — many with the businesses they first experienced during our sessions. One of those was filmmaker Jack Holmes. As part of a High Tide career experience, Jack had the opportunity to engage and interact with videographers in our region; an industry he previously didn’t know existed in Teesside. Following a new-found love for film, Jack has since gained a wealth of experience with the likes of Ithica and Wander Films, which has now led to him setting up his own filmmaking company.

Ellie McGavigan is another apprenticeship success story. Having started at Jacksons Law Firm as an apprentice in 2018, she’s advanced through her education and work experience to become a paralegal. Starting her career working towards a Level 3 Business Administration qualification, Ellie was also given the opportunity to help with marketing. But it was her interest in secretarial and case work where she found a real passion for the legal sector. Since then, Ellie’s joined the Wills and Probate department, learnt different processes and successfully completed her apprenticeship. As a full-time trainee paralegal, she now prepares wills, lasting powers of attorney, estate administration and probate applications.

Ellie said: “In our department we quite literally learn something new every day. It’s what makes the job so interesting. Every situation, every matter and every client is different.

“I feel very grateful for each and every opportunity that Jacksons has offered me, and I’m so appreciative of where my business administration apprenticeship has led to. I hope to continue broadening my knowledge to help and support our clients with our legal services.”

Ellie McGavigan from Jacksons Law.

Away from law and the creative industries, a major employer in our region is PD Ports. As one of the UK’s major port groups, they employ over 1,300 people including close to 80 apprentices. One of those is Apprentice Civil Engineer, Emliy Clark. After completing work experience under the mentorship of former director, Jim French, Emily was offered a four-week internship. The internship turned into an apprenticeship, and now she splits her time between work and completing a higher level apprenticeship in civil engineering.

Emily said: “I think the opportunity for young people to have that exposure to real workplaces is invaluable to help guide their futures.

“Apprenticeships can sometimes hold a stigma, and people seem to think it won’t lead to a particularly prestigious career – but that’s all it is, stigma. Degree apprenticeships are an excellent way to get real world experience while getting a fantastic education.”

Another PD Ports rising star is Marketing and Communications Apprentice, Harry Wheildon. Having joined the company in January 2022, Harry is currently experiencing a blend of education along with hands-on, professional experience.

Harry said: “Similar to many young people, I wasn’t sure what the right path for me was after college. I could have got a degree by going to university but, in the end, I realised I wanted to have a blend of education and work experience by doing an apprenticeship.

“Balancing my own time and doing what works best for me and knowing the company trusts me to manage my own workload is interesting as well as reassuring.”

PD Ports, Marketing and Communications Apprentice, Harry Wheildon.

Our final apprentice feature is Intelect’s Callum Dale. Originally discovering the company through a work experience placement, he is now in the third year of his apprenticeship. Based predominantly in the panel department, Callum spends his time building bespoke projects from scratch, problem solving and learning from an experienced team of engineers. 

Callum said: “In my opinion and for my circumstances it’s a much better option than the likes of university, as you can earn a wage while learning your trade.

“There is always more to learn, but you’re always with someone who’s experienced so it’s a great opportunity.”

Callum Dale, Apprentice Electrician at Intelect.

If you’re interested in becoming an apprentice, you can find out the latest opportunities by visiting the websites of our business supporters. They cover a range of industries and roles across the Tees Valley including digital, shipping, logistics, engineering, manufacturing, law and finance. There’s truly something for everyone.

Learn more about career journeys and apprenticeship stories on our Careers Hub.

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