A young engineer has taken the first step towards his dream career after being selected for a four-year apprenticeship.
James Elliott has been taken on as an apprentice by Stagecoach North East at its Sunderland depot.
The training offers a combination of block release to achieve a technical certificate in bus and coach engineering maintenance, and on-the-job training at the local depot.
The 24-year-old, from Chichester, South Shields, is the first in his family to step into the world of engineering and take his career in a new direction.
After leaving school, he started work as a fairground ride operator, dismantling the rides to maintain them and re-assembling them for operation.
While it was an opportunity to learn and develop his engineering skills, he was unable to find employment as an engineer due to lack of qualifications.
James said: “It has taken me a while to find the right opportunity for a career for the rest of my life, but here I am.
“After starting last month, I am now taking wheels off and replacing them under supervision, greasing the kingpins, checking oil levels and the general service side of things.
“I am shadowing my mentor as best as I can and picking up as much as possible to go forward with, but I can’t wait to do more and get stuck in on my own. It is all part of the learning experience.”
Stagecoach offers apprenticeship opportunities in body or combined mechanical and electrical engineering.
Apprentices will spend the next four years gaining hands-on practical training while studying at college in Glasgow over eight one-week blocks each year.
As engineering apprentices, they will learn all aspects of vehicle maintenance through their workshop experience, preparing vehicles for the road, conducting MOTs and doing repairs.
Gary Chisholm, engineering director at Stagecoach North East, said: “We are committed to developing our staff, and offering apprenticeship opportunities is a great way to bring young people into the company and nurture their skills from the outset of their professional career.
“James shows great promise and I am sure that he will be an asset to the engineering team, so we are delighted to welcome him aboard.”
On successful completion of the training, James will be awarded the bus and coach engineering technician qualification, and will then have the opportunity to become a licensed member of IRTEC (The Institute of Road Transport Engineers).