A PETERLEE electronics manufacturer has become one of the first companies to support a new local education model by giving a local youngster his first step into the world of work.

18 year old Dan Salmon of Peterlee is starting out on his working career with Seaward after spending over a year with them on work placement from the Apollo Studio Academy.

Apollo Studio Academy, based on the East Durham College site, is specifically designed to prepare young people for work by combining their studies with work experience with local employers.

Since starting at Apollo, Dan has been spending one day a week at Seaward to gain practical experience of working life and learning more about what different jobs involve.

Now, after being interviewed for a job as a print room technician, he has been handed a full time role with the company, although he will continue to be supported by Apollo so that he can complete his Level 3 Extended Diploma in Engineering course that ends in June.

Dan said: “It’s great that I’ve been given a job with a local company and start a new career like this. The opportunity to spend time away from school means you can learn more about different types of work and what employers expect from you. The whole experience has been really worthwhile and I’m now looking forward to a new permanent role with Seaward.”

The Apollo Studio Academy, which has a focus on manufacturing, engineering and healthcare related careers, was specifically set up to bridge the gap between education and work.

Students can start at Apollo in year 10 or year 12 and can choose GCSE (years 10 and 11) and vocational courses in work-related and technical subjects and combine their studies by working with local employers on real life business projects.

Sally Hudson, Principal of Apollo Studio Academy, explains: “We have developed excellent links with local employers like Seaward who tell us that they need young people who are ready and able to step into jobs when they leave education.

“We are therefore delighted to have helped Dan make this move and the route he has taken is exactly what we are striving to achieve for all of our students.

“His success shows that a combination of education and formal work placement is just the sort of head start that young people need to realise their career ambitions.”

As part of the Seaward manufacturing team, Dan will work in the company’s print room and continue with a workplace development plan which will enable him to progress to an NVQ Level 2 Business Improvement Techniques qualification.

Seaward employs around 160 people at its premises on Peterlee’s South West Industrial Estate, making specialist test instruments for the health and safety, electronics manufacturing, renewables, medical and utilities sectors.

Ian West, operations director, said: “As a successful business it is important that we can continue to develop the local skills we need to support the future growth of the company.

“In addition, as a local employer we also recognise our responsibility to help inspire young people in the wide range of work opportunities that manufacturing can provide and to encourage them to build successful careers here.

“Our relationship with the Apollo Studio Academy fulfils both these objectives and we are delighted to be able to support enthusiastic local young people like Dan take their first steps into work. We are certain he can enjoy a successful career with Seaward.”