GKN offers work placements to engineering students

Engineering students from Telford College got chance to visit one of the town’s largest manufacturing companies as part of a new industry placement collaboration.

Seven students spent the day with Angelo Fanourakis, chief engineer at GKN Sankey’s Hadley Castle works.

The company is looking to offer work placements to three Telford College students – potentially spanning up to 350 hours.

The site visit was designed to reflect a real interview scenario, with students touring the GKN manufacturing site, including the new combustion press, production lines, and testing laboratory

They also took part in a series of engineering-themed exercises, and an interview.

Belinda Blakeman, Telford College’s work placement
co-ordinator, said: “It was such a fabulous day – so inspirational.”

The students included Rachael McFarlane, a former Hadley
Learning Community pupil, who described the tour as ‘enlightening’. She said“Seeing the whole site has been amazing – it’s huge.

“I’ve been interested in engineering for a while now
because I wanted a challenge. Visiting GKN Sankey has been the best part of my course so far, the industry links the college has are excellent.

“My aim is to complete my level two and three engineering
at Telford College and then move on to the HNC and HND and hopefully have a career at GKN Sankey, or another large engineering organisation.”

She added: “The most interesting part was visiting the testing laboratory, where the work placement students will be spending most of their time.

 “There was testing rig with a brand new car in. The chassis, body and all other parts were being put through a ‘lifetime’ test to see if any parts failed. It was interesting and exciting because the car has not yet been released and we got to see it.”

Site director Mike Smith took time out to spend lunch with the Telford College students, and told a story about one engineer he had worked with throughout his career, who had guided him through his journey.

“There are lots of opportunities in engineering manufacturing in the UK and the country is crying out for young engineers,” he said.

“Going to college for your BTEC and HNC or HND qualifications is a well-recognised route, and one that I recommend myself.

“I have always believed in investing in my workforce and seeing engineers work their way through the hierarchy.”

Mr Smith is a STEM ambassador, who says: “Without students studying science, technology, engineering and maths we’d be nowhere.

“This project will give three students valuable work experience for up to six months, which will give them a huge advantage when starting off in the engineering world.

“When I recruit, I look at people’s aptitude for learning and hard work, regardless if someone has academic or vocational qualifications. I look deeper than that and try to establish their value to the company.

“The biggest threat to UK’s manufacturing industry is running out of engineers; I recommend the industry and young people should seriously consider it, especially females.

“I completed my MBA and worked my way up to this position and there’s no reason why any of these Telford College students can’t do the same, as long as they have aptitude.”

Graham Guest, Telford College’s principal and chief executive, added: “This is an exciting opportunity for the college that we hope will develop further.

“We received positive feedback from Angelo regarding the day and all of the students that were put forward.”


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