Engineering students on track for a bright future
Two more trainee engineers have been recruited by cutting-edge railway product manufacturers, Howells Railway Products Ltd, following an excellent track record from four existing apprentices from Stockport College.
Engineering technology students Callum Sharman and Liam Riley are the latest apprentices to go on the books at the family-run firm in Wythenshawe from Stockport College, gaining the opportunity to learn their way around state-of-the-art machinery, in what has become a showroom for Formula 1 sponsors and machine tool manufacturer Haas.
The trainees will join existing apprentices Lewis Bird, Harry Purnell and Scott Edwards, who are currently learning from established members of Howells staff in addition to College tutors Coral Aspinall and Ian Ailes, and their combined experience of 75 years of working in industry.
They will work alongside Alex Barnes, who was the first apprentice to join the College’s training programme through Howells four years ago, winning Engineering Apprentice of the Year and Employer Apprenticeship Provider of the Year for the company. Alex is planning on returning to higher education with the College this year, after rising through the ranks to chief programmer during his apprenticeship, taking on international projects from test runs right through to the production stage.
Alex said: “I always feel like I can go to my tutors for help at the College. An apprenticeship education has really encouraged me to study independently and get additional certificates online. The next step for me is a HNC and one day going into management.”
Second year Scott Edwards won Engineering Student of the Year with the College before joining Howells as an apprentice and found his niche working in the £1.6m fabrication workshop, with floor-to-ceiling robotic laser welder, after exploring different departments during his apprenticeship.
Scott, who would like to be Head of Engineering one day, said: “College really gives you the confidence to succeed. There are so many skills you can take from College and apply here, from drawings through to hand tools and laser welding.”
Working alongside Scott, on products destined for the likes of Network Rail, Siemens, Transport for London as well as overseas companies Delhi Metro and Hitachi Rail Europe is relative newcomer Harry Purnell, who has been with Howells through the College as an apprentice for six months.
Harry said: “Training with Howells computer operated machines means I’m learning the very latest technology in engineering, which makes me much more employable. If it hadn’t have been for my College tutors, I know I wouldn’t have done as well.”
Due to the strong working relationship built between Howells and the College, students benefit from educational visits with tutors to the company as well as masterclasses on the use of machinery from Howells staff.
Quality Manager at Howells, David Roberts, said: “We have formed a fantastic synergy with the College Group. We feel it works really well. College provides the in depth theoretical knowledge that we integrate with the practical.
“During our working relationship, the College has been fantastic. Staff really understand our needs as a business, and learning like this has been all the more important due to the pandemic.”
College engineering tutor Coral Aspinall said: “Between us, we are teaching these apprentices a broad range of skills. We have good systems in place which will work with good people. Howells trusts us to produce good students and what Howells has got is that trust. We are always looking to give our students an advantage to get into jobs and Howells is a prime example of how we can give our students among the very best.”