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Six new apprentices

New apprentices, new starts

When Richard Taylor (picture front left) was made redundant in February this year there was a sense of inevitability for him. Who needs a door to door charity fundraiser when you’re not allowed to go door to door. But six months and countless job applications later, Richard was told about an apprenticeship opportunity at Atlas Packaging. Richard said: 

“It was very difficult to go door to door charity fundraising when there’s a worldwide pandemic and you’re not meant to be opening the door, it was difficult enough at the best of times. I lost my job at the start of lockdown and it gets very disheartening not hearing things back from people. But when I saw the advert I applied, got an interview and was offered one of the apprenticeships which was amazing.” 

Change of direction

The 23 year old started his machine engineering apprenticeship this week along with five others at the corrugated cardboard packaging company in Barnstaple. While the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has led to many job losses across the South West, an increased demand for cardboard boxes has seen Atlas Packaging take on a dozen production staff along with the six new apprentices.  

17 year old Rachel Suttie was in customer service but something didn’t seem right. Her mum clearly agreed as she tagged her daughter in a post from Job Centre Plus Barnstaple on Facebook. Rachel said: 

“I’d always watch my dad fixing things and he’d say Rachel can you pass me the screwdriver, I was fascinated by it. So I was tagged in a post on social media by my mum for this engineering apprenticeship, I applied and got the job. My old colleagues said ‘you shouldn’t be doing that’ but why not, females can be mechanics and engineers, you can be anything you want to be.” 

Machine engineering

The apprentices will receive training in all aspects of machine engineering to help with maintenance of the 100,000 sq ft of production facilities across three sites at Roundswell in Barnstaple. As well as working towards their Level 2 diploma in Engineering Operations, they’ll also be able to work the packaging machines when they finish their apprenticeships. On their first day Jason Sharman (pictured right) Atlas Packaging’s Managing Director welcomed the apprentices along with Operations Director Phil Sweetland who said: 

“We’re delighted to welcome the apprentices into the Atlas Packaging crew. To take on six new starters in one go is all part of our company’s belief in education and training. I’d encourage other businesses to engage with the apprenticeship programme from Petroc College, especially at this time when young people have been disproportionately affected by the economic climate. Joy Fennell at Job Centre Plus in Barnstaple has been amazing with this.” 


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