A keen young engineer has taken the first step towards a career in engineering after being selected to join a four-year apprenticeship with Stagecoach North East.

The local bus operator has just taken on James Elliott as an apprentice to train at its Sunderland depot.

The apprenticeship offers a combination of block release training to achieve the Technical Certificate in Bus and Coach Engineering Maintenance, and on the job training at the local depot.

24-year-old James from Chichester in 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, James went straight into employment as a ride operator at a fairground, dismantling the ride to maintain them and re-assembling them for operation.

While this has given James an opportunity to learn and develop his engineering skills and provided great experience, he was unable to find employment as an engineer due to lack of qualifications. After studying his GCSEs at Mortimer Community College, James was successful at demonstrating his learning and enthusiasm and landed the apprenticeship with Stagecoach.

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. But it is all part of the learning experience.”

The local bus operator offers apprenticeship opportunities in body or combined mechanical and electrical engineering and the apprentices will be spending the next four years gaining hands-on practical training while studying at college in Glasgow over eight one-week blocks, each year.

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