Apprentices working at Yorkshire-based gritter manufacturer Econ Engineering, have urged more young people to follow in their career footsteps as they learn a valuable on-the-job trade.
Ahead of National Apprenticeship Week, two young employees at the company’s Ripon-based assembly plant have spoken of the exciting opportunities their roles have provided.
Oliver Merrin and Jacob Condie are in the middle of their specialist apprenticeships with Econ, the UKs leading manufacturer of winter maintenance vehicles, and believe the experience is providing them with the best possible start to their careers.
Family-owned and run since 1969, Econ – which has a workforce of around 240 – has welcomed a continual string of apprentices to their team, learning their trade both on the factory floor and at technical college.
Oliver Merrin, 19, started his apprenticeship back in 2021 as an Apprentice Welder, and is grateful for the opportunity that it has given him.
“I have been at Econ for two-and-a-half years and a typical day would be making up the frames and welding them. The frames are what the gritters, the hot boxes and the de-icers sit on,” he said.
“It is a good way to get into a trade and that is what I was looking for.
Welding is quite a hands-on thing to do and I thought it would be right up my street… and it was.
“Econ is a very well-structured company, there is a lot you can learn here. Everyone is very welcoming, if you get stuck with anything then you can ask anyone in the factory and they will help you out.
“The key is to not let the college work pile up, so that you have a lot to do before the deadline. Crack on with it straight away so that you do not fall behind.
“My mentor here at Econ, Darren, has been great from the very start and the college itself has plenty of resources for us to use. If anyone is thinking of what they should do after school, then I would definitely suggest an apprenticeship.”
Jacob Condie, 25, who is in the middle of his IT apprenticeship, echoed the thoughts of his colleague: “Typically in a day, I respond to tickets from my colleagues here and essentially looking over the systems to make sure they are running properly.
“My manager is really supportive and helps with anything that I might need.
“My advice would be for people to look out for all the opportunities that you can get and just go for it. You won’t regret it.”
Econ Engineering Managing Director, Jonathan Lupton, who himself worked his way up from the factory floor as an apprentice before taking over the reins of the family business, said: “From the very earliest days of Econ, we have employed apprentices within the business and we are proud of the fact that so many of them have gone on to work for the business for many years.
“After leaving school at 16, I worked my way across many of the various Econ departments as an apprentice, learning from those people who knew their jobs inside out and who could teach me valuable lessons about every aspect of the company.
“It made me the person I am today and if university is not for you, then learning a trade through being an apprentice is certainly something I would advocate.”