Where are they now – Sean

Sean Winter, Operations Manager, Hanover Displays

‘It’s a great opportunity to employ young people who are starting their careers, an apprenticeship program will ensure you have staff in key positions that understand your business from the bottom up, it makes a real difference‘!

At sixteen I was fortunate enough to be offered an apprenticeship at a mechanical engineering company called Vacuum Generators in Hastings East Sussex.I liked the idea of an apprenticeship as it gave me the opportunity to learn at work and college whilst being paid.

My first year was full time at college at the Engineering Training Centre that was linked to Hastings College of Arts & Technology.It was a great experience with our group totalling approximately thirty young men and women from different companies, from manufacturing sectors, such as electronics, electrical and mechanical engineering.After our first year at college we returned to our place of work and into the real world of production, my apprenticeship was fours years in total and for the next three years I attended college on a day release basis.

During that period I was monitored by a company called Sigta, Sigta were employed to monitor the quality of my training I received at college and to ensure I had no issues with learning the syllabus or any general issues at college.A representative of Sigta would visit me at work every six weeks to make sure everything was ok, for me I was lucky enough to have Ted Stenning as my training officer.Ted had been in the industry for many years and had extensive knowledge of engineering and working with colleges, he would also ensure there was a training plan in place for me at work, this enabled me to move around the company getting a good overview of every department and what happened in those areas.I would have to complete log book entries to prove I had learnt and gathered sufficient evidence during my time in each department, Ted would set me tasks that had to be completed before his next visit and he would mark them to ensure I had covered the correct criteria and prove I had competence in that activity.

My time as an apprentice passed very quickly at Vacuum Generators and I was fortunate enough to progress on to director level, during my time we continued to employee apprentices as we knew it was the right thing to do.

A study of our work force showed we had multiple skilled staff that would be retiring in 5-10 years so it was essential to get a program underway, with the help of Sigta we hosted open days and completed factory tours, this was done to show potential apprentices what working as an apprentice at Vacuum Generators would be like.

Sigta would advertise for us and then conduct an initial assessment of the candidates, a short list would then be provided for interview, this helped to reduce the time we spent on the process.During my time at Vacuum Generators Sigta helped to place somewhere in the region of 15 -20 apprentices with the majority going on to achieve middle management, however some decided management was not for them and still hold key positions on the shop floor even to this day.

Ted eventually retired and Darryl Kingshott became our training officer, Dave Underwood would visit as well to ensure we complied with Health & Safety requirements, I’ve had a great experience of working with all Sigta employees.

Eventually I moved on from Vacuum Generators and joined a company called Hanover Displays in Lewes East Sussex, Hanover are an electronics company producing passenger information systems for public transport, my previous experience with Sigta was based on mechanical engineering so I had to check if Sigta could cover electronics.

I approached Darryl to find out if they could monitor our apprentices and thankfully they could, I convinced the board due to my experience of working with Sigta for 15+ successful years we should switch to them and the following year we did.

In 4 ½ years at Hanover Displays Sigta have helped us to find four apprentices, their level of support and thoroughness in their monitoring is second to none.I can see history repeating itself with the calibre of apprentices that Sigta have found and will find for us, many will go on to hold key positions at Hanover, they are the next generation and our future.

Sigta can help your business find and support you though the transition and growth of your business, it’s a great opportunity to employ young people who are starting their careers, an apprenticeship program will ensure you have staff in key positions that understand your business from the bottom up, it makes a real difference!

Sean Winter

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