As Head Boy at his secondary school, Jack Partridge was weighing up all his options about what he wanted to do post-GCSEs.

Describing himself as practically based, Jack says he was all set to study physics, maths and history at A-Level before having a bit of an epiphany. He realised that whilst A-Levels are indeed a solid option, after two years of studying he would again find himself in a position of having to decide what to study at university or whether to enter the job market. In weighing up the possibilities presented by an apprenticeship, he figured that by taking the plunge earlier, he could earn as he learnt and obtain real work experience in a field that he knew he would enjoy.

Prior to joining Harland & Wolff, Jack had only ever used the tools available to him in design and technology classes at school but is now learning how to handle high-tech equipment under the tutelage of Apprentice Supervisor Stuart Morrish. The apprentices at Appledore learn the techniques and methods of their more experienced colleagues before being given time and space to develop their own skills and, ultimately, make their own mistakes, which is a system that Jack praises.

Jack says that the support given by Stuart and the rest of the team in Appledore has created a family-like atmosphere in North Devon, supporting a structure that gives apprentices confidence in the scheme, the yard, and the company.

Reflecting on his pride in his apprenticeship, Jack said:

“The team has clear aims: work on the ships, work to deadlines and make it functional. You get a buzz of knowing you are impacting projects from a functionality perspective, and you are having a big effect on the end goal and creating a sense of team cohesion.”

One of those projects is the refit and refurbishment of an M55 ship for the Lithuanian Navy. When asked about how it feels to be working on such a project just eight months removed from secondary school, Jack beams.

“Although everything seems big and complicated, the team has done well at explaining the technical aspects of the trade,” he said. “It is really good to be taught by people who can make the work so much simpler and helps to instil a lot of confidence into each of us on the scheme.

“Ultimately, working on a project like the M55 is like building a Lego set, and everyone loves Lego!”