A 17-year-old Aycliffe apprentice was hosted at The Local Skills Champions’ Reception at 10 Downing Street after being nominated by our local MP.
The initiative, led by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, aims to celebrate the businesses across Britain who have committed to developing new talent, and the apprentices who are dedicated to learning.
Nominees were chosen by MPs across the country, and Aycliffe-based Katie Eltringham was selected by Sedgefield Paul Howell MP to attend the ceremony and represent the constituency.
Katie began working as a business administration apprentice in February 2023 with manufacturing firm BTS Facades and Fabrications, through apprenticeship provider Optimum Skills.
Paul Howell said: “I chose Katie because it was my pleasure to meet with Marcia and Phil Atkinson who run BTS Fabrications in Newton Aycliffe in my constituency last year, and since then, I have developed a close working relationship with them and their team.
“BTS are a warm family firm that works hard to engage their team fully and this includes promoting young talent as apprentices – a fine example of which is Katie.
“It was great to spend time with Katie and Marcia when I went with them to the reception at No 10, and it was clear that they had a truly memorable experience.”
The event was hosted by Rt Hon Gillian Keegan MP, Secretary of State for Education, and aimed to celebrate efforts to boost skills and vocational education through apprenticeships.
Though, when Katie received the invitation email, she admitted she thought it was too good to be true.
“At first when I received the email I was sat with my mum, and we assumed straight away it was a scam!” she said.
“A few weeks later, Marcia put the invitation in front of me; my heart dropped, and my face lit up.
“I was very grateful to have had my name put forward, the team at BTS continuously make me feel like a valued member of staff.
“It felt surreal, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity I’ll never forget.”
BTS Facades and Fabrications, the company which employs Katie, is a manufacturing business which supplies high-quality rainscreen products.
Finance director Marcia Atkinson said: “Apprenticeships are vital to every business and a great stepping stone for young people in our communities.
“Companies need to invest in young people to help them build skills for the future whilst they can gain experience and earn at the same time.
“We’re incredibly proud of Katie, and if she carries on excelling in her apprenticeship and college work, we will have no hesitation in offering her a full-time position within our company.”
To find out more about BTS, head to their website: btsfabrications.co.uk.
• Pictured above (left to right): BTS finance director Marcia Atkinson, apprentice Katie Eltringham, Education secretary Gillian Keegan MP and Sedgefield MP Paul Howell.