Hartlepool College of Further Education is celebrating a former apprentice who has taken his career to new heights.
Jordan Garrick, 23, who attended Northfield School in Billingham came to Hartlepool College of Further Education in 2012 to study a Higher National Diploma in Aerospace Engineering through Teesside University.
Since then Jordan has gone on to an apprenticeship with Babcock International Ltd working within its military aviation wing.
Jordan said: “I always knew I wanted to do something within aerospace. Originally, I wanted to be a pilot in the RAF but unfortunately, I’m too tall and I’d have no chance if I had to press the eject button, it would take my knees off! So, I chose to go into engineering instead and I’ve never looked back since. I’d never done anything like it before so I came with an open mind and signed up at the College.
“When I finished my course in 2014 I had to question whether I wanted the experience of working within the industry or whether I wanted to go to university to continue onto my Bachelor of Engineering or Master of Engineering.
“I finally chose to apply for an apprenticeship position which was available at Babcock International. I’d been on visits to RAF Leeming, where the company is based, whilst I was doing my HND and I was fascinated. The apprenticeship was the foot in the door and I needed to kick-start my career.
“My apprenticeship was a bit different to others, while other apprentices usually have a day release to attend college. My entire apprenticeship was based at up at RAF Leeming and it was all on the job training.
“I started out in my first year on what is known as the ‘First Line’ which includes working on and planning the flying program and making any rectifications to that program. My second year was on the ‘Second Line’ which is scheduled maintenance on the aircraft. A bit like when you take your car in for a service.”
Whilst at Babcock, Jordan has primarily been working on the Hawk T1A, a modified version of a single engine, jet powered training aircraft used by the RAFs 100 Squadron.
“Working on aircraft such as the Hawk was a new experience for me at the time. I’d only worked on the jet in the hanger at the College, which is a dead aircraft purely for training purposes. So, to have the opportunity to be working on live aircraft was exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time. I felt I got a lot of job satisfaction from it, especially seeing the aircraft take off after having worked on it was thrilling.
“The guys up at Leeming have been incredible. The people you work with support you through it all. I was one of the first apprentices taken on by Babcock Aviation along with one other apprentice. We were sort of leading the way for all subsequent apprentices and the team really took us under their wing and taught us a lot.”
Jordan passed his apprenticeship in June 2016 and by August had been promoted to a supervisory role, meaning he now oversees another employee within the company. Jordan said: “It just goes to show how fast things can change if you work hard and apply yourself.
“Babcock is even sponsoring me through my degree at Teesside University. Something I was thinking about years ago when I was at the cross roads of university or an apprenticeship. Only now I have the great experience of working within the industry and the added bonus of them paying all of the fees, which is brilliant.”
Following his degree, Jordan already has a space on Babcock’s graduate programme where he has the chance to work in other countries and sees himself in a management position at the engineering company in the future.
Jordan said: “The opportunities that have been afforded to me because of my apprenticeship have been amazing. I’ve been sent away on detachment to work on aircraft during NATO exercises in countries such as Estonia and Hungary. It not only helps me develop my skills but opens my mind to different cultures.”
Jordan has recently bought his own home and is aiming to finally attain his dream by training for his Private Pilot Licence. Jordan said: “I need about 45 hours of airtime in order to get my licence, which I try to fit in when I’m not doing my university work. I’m almost half way now so I just need to keep on going.
“It’s unbelievable to think how far I’ve come since 2012, when I first started at Hartlepool College of Further Education. My apprenticeship opened the door to possibilities that I never would have accomplished had I went to university. Who knows where I would be now if I hadn’t taken this chance.
“Apprenticeships are an incredible way to learning skills while getting your foot on the career ladder. I love working at Babcock and I love learning there. My advice for anyone who is in a similar position as I was is “Just do it!’.”