Supporting role: Mark Speke and Tom Rudd

May 1, 2019

Mark Speke, works manager at engineering company Tees Components, based in North Skelton, East Cleveland, has used his 35 years’ experience at the company – which began with an engineering apprenticeship – to mentor Tom Rudd through his own apprenticeship. He is now supporting the newly-qualified machine shop engineer on the next phase of his career

Mark Speke

Tees Components differs from other engineering firms because it is family-run.

It has grown and invested over 55 years to be one of the most comprehensive heavy engineering facilities in the UK, with 40 per cent of its workforce having begun their careers with an apprenticeship.

In the year Tom was employed, we interviewed several apprentice candidates. From the first moment I spoke to him, Tom stood out as a confident individual who had a good understanding of mechanical engineering.

On a day-to-day basis, I’m involved with Tom’s support. We meet regularly with his assessor from the STEM Centre and have a formal training plan, as well as ad-hoc support.

Working closely with Tom, I’ve been able to help him achieve his goal of becoming a time- served mechanical engineer.

We produce components that are often high- risk, high-value items. One of the main things is being confident and trusting yourself to get the job right – that’s hopefully something I’ve helped Tom with.

Tom has a very strong work ethic, is keen to learn new skills and is an excellent engineer.

I’m sure he has the ability to develop into a first- class professional engineer, who will hopefully move into management and pass his skills to apprentices in years to come.

Tom Rudd

I heard about Tees Components while still at school, and came for a work experience placement. I joined as an apprentice when I was 16.

Arriving as a school-leaver, I had no real workplace experience but Mark has helped me and supported me with developing my work ethic.

He has taught me a lot about how to tackle a job I’ve never seen before. When seeing a component and drawing for the first time, for example, I’ve had to learn from him how to set it up and machined to tolerance with the correct surface finish.

We don’t do a lot of repeat work; we are always problem-solving, and I enjoy how challenging it is. Completion of my apprenticeship was slightly

delayed because I was involved in a bad road accident. However, Mark and Tees Components gave me the encouragement and support to continue and make sure I stayed on track with my college work and could come back to work.

My apprenticeship was completed last month, and now I’m a qualified machine shop engineer with a permanent contract.

At the moment, I am working on shifts, machining components for an original equipment manufacturer, whose products are used to press food oils, such as rapeseed oil.

In the long-term, I’d like to continue developing my skills. I have some more training coming up in CNC programming, and I would like to progress within the company.

Tees Components

Scroll to next article
Go to

Burning Issue: May 2019