The Ocean Youth Trust North (OYT North) state proudly in their motto that they: "change lives and inspire futures"; a claim that Eddy Townend and Tom Jones, second year apprentices at Reliance Precision, would certainly agree with having spent three days working with the trust on The James Cook, an impressive 21 metre ocean going vessel, anchored at the mouth of The River Tyne.
The OYT North facilitate a personal development experience which detaches young people from the security of their everyday lives, where mundane chores, once taken for granted, suddenly become their own responsibility: "On the way there, I had to find my way around unfamiliar places and changeable train timetables for the first time," explains Eddy. "When I eventually arrived, I was introduced to everyone and we were given our individual tasks to do. It was all a bit daunting at first, but the staff encouraged us and made us feel part of their team."
The work Eddy undertook on board the James Cook helped develop his awareness of different aspects of engineering. Back at Reliance he is part of a team producing high accuracy components, often working to tolerances of just a few microns. This trip gave the apprentices the opportunity to try their hand at something a little different.
Mick Hallam, Reliance's Training Officer, is convinced that exposure to more maintenance based tasks builds the apprentices' appreciation of how engineering components work within mechanisms: "One of the projects involved the dismantling, cleaning and reassembling of a water pump. This sort of activity nurtures an understanding of how parts work together and that the correct use of lubricants can be just as important as producing components with dimensional accuracy."
With its commitment to quality and engineering excellence, Reliance's in-house training school has produced a steady flow of high calibre, award-winning apprentices. Both Eddy and Tom agree that trips such as this provide a refreshing and diverse element to their training that adds balance, promotes teamwork and builds character. Additionally, Mick Hallam comments on how apprentices often demonstrate a new maturity on their return: "in the quality of the work they produce, but also in how they interact with their colleagues".