Rolls Royce link-up with Newcastle school shows commitment to apprenticeships

Teenagers from Newcastle's Excelsior Academy will combine time in the classroom with on-the-job training

Excelsior apprentices Lukas Istok and Sarim Malik with Steven Bolton of Rolls-Royce
Excelsior apprentices Lukas Istok and Sarim Malik with Steven Bolton of Rolls-Royce

A school's commitment to apprenticeships has been cemented in a link-up with with engineering giant Rolls-Royce.

Twenty-four teenagers from Excelsior Academy in Newcastle’s west end this week began a four-year apprenticeship at the world famous engine maker’s North East Training Centre on Scotswood Road, learning the skills they will need to become top engineers.

The sixth-formers will learn skills such as welding, fabrication, machining, computer aided design and electrical wiring at Rolls Royce, but also do classroom work at Excelsior for the first 12 months.

After that they head out to work as an apprentice with a North East employer to complete their training for the remaining three years of the scheme, though trainers from Rolls-Royce will still monitor and supervise their progress.

Excelsior is the first school in the region to take part in the scheme, which will lead to an NVQ Level Two in Performing Engineering Operations and a BTEC National Diploma in Engineering as part of the apprenticeship scheme.

The link-up came after a financial commitment from Excelsior’s sponsor, the businessman Lord Laidlaw.

Steven Bolton, Rolls-Royce’s training school manager, said: “There is a very good chance that if the apprentices show the right attributes, values and behaviour that they will be taken on by a local company.

“We train them to an industry standard, all our instructors are time served in the areas that they teach with many years in the industry and put knowledge into the apprentices that goes way beyond text books.

“This is an unbelievable start to their working lives. We deal with a couple of hundred engineering firms in the North East and they know the calibre of the apprentices and the skills they have when they leave us which is exactly what they want in new employees.”

Excelsior specialises in business enterprise, preparing its pupils for life after education. It is running its own apprenticeship programme within the academy giving students the opportunity to begin their working career there.

The school’s executive principal Phil Marshall said: “Our apprentices have been given a fantastic opportunity to embark on a fulfilling career under the guidance of Rolls-Royce.

“The skills they will learn from one of the world’s greatest engineering companies will allow them to work in a host of different jobs with knowledge that will be in great demand from companies across the North East.”

Among those taking part in the scheme is 17-year-old Sarim Malik, who said: “It’s a big chance for us, it’s hard to get in here and I want to take the chance to work in welding or electrical engineering.”

Fellow trainee Lukas Istok, 18, said: “We are going to learn lots of different aspects of engineering which is good experience – I’d like to work for Rolls-Royce if I could.”

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