Budding engineers were building bridges at a Newton Aycliffe training centre as part of a nationwide celebration of apprenticeships.
More than 200 students from seven schools across the county have been enjoying the appliance of science in hands-on workshops with local employers at South West Durham Training.
The year 9 and 10 pupils enjoyed engineering and construction activities which included building a 55 foot long cable and suspension bridge provided by the Institute of Civil Engineers, bricklaying, robotic-engineering and problem solving exercises.
The activities have been arranged to mark National Apprenticeship Week, a week-long nationwide celebration of apprenticeships and the positive impact they have on individuals, businesses and the wider economy co-ordinated by the National Apprenticeship Service.
The schools who took part were Bishop Barrington and King James I Academy in Bishop Auckland, Ferryhill School, Greenfield School in Shildon, Sedgefield School, Woodham Academy in Newton Aycliffe and Whitworth Park School in Spennymoor.
Local employers involved at the SWDT events, jointly organised with strategic partner Bishop Auckland College, included Stockton-on-Tees based car parts manufacturer Nifco, which last month announced a £50m contract with Ford which has secured 350 jobs.
Nifco’s general manager (engineering) Andy Dunn, a former SWDT trainee who is a big advocate of apprenticeships, gave an inspirational talk to the students about the importance of skills development.
He said: “We recruited our first apprentices for several years in 2011 and the impact they have had on the business has been significant.
“It is absolutely vital to invest in the skills and development of young people. Ensuring that we have young, hungry and talented individuals in our workforce is crucial to help meet our ambitious growth plans, and I have seen plenty of evidence of that here today.”
Trevor Alley, Chief Executive of SWDT, added: “There is no better way to inspire young people than for them to meet our former trainees who have gone on to achieve great things in industry.
“We are very grateful to all our industry partners who have given their valuable time to meet local students this week and stress the importance of gaining skills and qualifications.”