Dave Smith – Case Study

My Apprenticeship Journey

My apprenticeship journey started in 1992 when, like my father, I secured an apprenticeship in the world of newspaper printing. My father had always worked in the newspaper industry, having completed an apprenticeship at the Daily Express in 1955. Even though I had some knowledge of his role, I still didn’t really know what I expected from my first day at work at Trafford Park Printers.


I suppose looking back I was very naïve and didn’t really understand what an apprenticeship was or meant. I was about to start my journey into work, further education and make my first acquaintance with Stegta.
Before I even started an apprenticeship I realised that school wasn’t really for me, nor were A-levels or university. However, like many young people then, and now, I followed the crowd and actually did quite well at school, despite not really heading in any specific direction or knowing what I wanted to do.

I used to check the jobs section of the newspaper diligently during the last few months at school – I didn’t have enough foresight to choose a career. Eventually I came across a job at Trafford Park Printers. The post was an Apprentice Electrical Engineer. There wasn’t much more detail than that in the advert. I sent a CV and forgot about it.

Two weeks later I was sitting an engineering trades’ test at the company’s chosen training provider. Four weeks later I was sitting in front of a panel of four imposing directors from the company. I can’t remember much of the interview except for one question – “Why do you want to work for Trafford Park Printers?” my answer, that my father had worked in the newspaper industry for 30 years struck a chord and I think it was that answer alone which got me the job. It was some years later that I actually found out that one of the people who’d interviewed me had actually worked with my father in Manchester during the 1970’s.

So my first day at work was the 1st of September 1992. My apprenticeship route was already planned. I’d be spending the first year of my apprenticeship completing my Basic Engineering Training. In the second, third and fourth years I’d complete an NVQ 3.
In addition to this I’d also attend college on a day release basis to attain a BTEC and then move on to a HNC. My final goal at the end of year four was a ‘Modern Apprenticeship’. My training was organised by Stegta and my training officer was John Whitby – now Stegta CEO.

Looking back, time passed quickly and I really enjoyed my apprenticeship. It was a welcome distraction from the other challenges in my life and I made some great friends who I’m still friends with today.

The apprenticeship and the qualifications that went with it opened many doors. Over the next twenty years I’d spend time in America, Germany and France and I’d do many different amazing things including meeting my future wife, adding to my ever growing list of qualifications and latterly becoming a Training Officer myself– passing the skills I’d learnt onto the next generation of young engineers. I have also recently been appointed Assistant Group Training Manager and work alongside our Group Training Manager to ensure the smooth running of the training department.

It’s now 24 years since my apprenticeship journey started, but one thing’s certain, my life journey and the person I am today was made by my apprenticeship.