First apprentices for Airedale

Airedale Service has taken on its first ever apprentices. Stuart Onyett, 19 of Gravesend, Kent and Shaun Woolacott, 17, of Rainham, Kent are overwhelmed by the welcome they have received at Airedale and cannot wait to be learning the tools of the trade.
Stuart left school at 17 with three ‘A’ Levels. After a string of jobs he realised none held any career prospects and, in search of an apprenticeship, he attended an Open Day at Gravesend College. Airedale had also contacted the College and was in put in touch with Stuart, who was interviewed and given the job.

Says Stuart: “It’s brilliant at Airedale, very positive and somewhere I want to work. Everyone is so friendly and wants us to learn and do well. We’ve been looked after well and had a really good welcome. I can’t wait to get stuck in and start learning the trade.”

The apprentices are part of a new ‘Grow Your Own’ policy adopted by Airedale Service. Airedale Service & Maintenance Manager Adrian Trevelyan explains: “We have adopted this approach because of the difficulty of recruiting good service engineers where we need them and because we have to bring them into these areas.

“Unlike apprentices taken on in Airedale’s mainstream business who train in our 25,000m² facility in Leeds, Stuart and Shaun will do most of their learning on the tools, under the eagle eye of fully qualified Airedale service engineers on site. Initially they will in effect be an extra pair of hands, but they will soon build up their experience and over the four years of their apprenticeship will steadily gain full knowledge of Airedale products.”

Shaun, who left school at 16 and did a C&G Bricklaying course at Mid Kent College, Rochester, has decided to follow in his father’s footsteps and pursue a career as a service engineer in air conditioning.

Says Shaun: “I worked with my dad for a while and really enjoyed it. He knew an Airedale service engineer who recommended Airedale and said the company was taking on apprentices. I had an interview in London and was chuffed to get the job.”

Besides on-the-job training, Shaun and Stuart will be studying Refrigeration and Air Conditioning at North West Kent College on a day release basis, as well as undertaking internal training at Airedale’s Training Academy.

Director of Human Resources Steve Joyce says: “We are building relationships with colleges in the areas in which we need engineers so we can recruit youngsters as they feed through college. Stuart’s case is a perfect example of how, by working closely with a college, we have been put in touch with an aspiring young person looking for a career in engineering.”

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