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Business & Economy

Wilton Engineering praised for helping secure apprentices’ futures

An engineering firm has been hailed a “class act” by a college after stepping in to help apprentices find work.

Wilton Engineering last year welcomed three students from Hartlepool College of Further Education left facing redundancy amid the COVID-19 pandemic – and has since recruited another four.

Now, Ryan Lodge, Josh Tate, Matthew Geddes, Travis Miller, Connor-Jack Lee, Jake Tait and Jackson Malcolm are building their careers at the company, which is based in Port Clarence, near Middlesbrough, on a raft of projects covering sectors such as offshore energy and defence.

Harry Garraghan, a lecturer in fabrication and welding at the college, said: “This shows what a class act and a great company Wilton is.

“Its work is of the highest quality, and it is fantastic they have saved a number of apprentices during the pandemic.

“We had three apprentices who worked full-time last April in the first weeks of lockdown.

“Instead of furlough, the company let them go. They had 12 weeks to find a new job and, in the middle of a pandemic, the chances of them getting employment looked to be zero.

“Companies weren’t prepared to take them on with restrictions in place, but Wilton stepped forward.

“A few weeks ago, Wilton recruited four level three plate welders from our full-time cohort too.

“We now have seven apprentices there and it is a great place to learn and develop.”

Wilton Group chief executive Bill Scott, who started out as an apprentice himself, said he was delighted to continue a relationship with the college that dates back some 27 years.

He said: “In partnership, we have been able to train and develop lots of apprentices, who are the life blood for the future of our fabrication business.

“Although COVID-19 has been challenging for everyone, we are pleased that with a good order book we were able to continue that commitment last year and increase the number of apprentices this year.

“Creating these skilled roles is imperative for our sector and we felt it was important the time invested by these young people shouldn’t go to waste.”

John Price, Wilton’s group HR manager, added: “When we interviewed the apprentices, we were impressed with the work they had put in during challenging circumstances.

“We were so impressed and changed our plans and increased the intake of apprentices as a result.”