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Derby College student Luke is Collis Engineering’s first degree apprentice

Derby-based rail engineering business Collis Engineering Ltd has taken on its first degree apprentice after finding the ideal candidate at a careers fair held at The Roundhouse.

Luke Payne, who has a level 3 qualification in advanced manufacturing and engineering from Derby College Group, got the chance to apply for the role after meeting the company’s directors at the Diversityin2Engineering event.

Luke, who is 20, tried another career after completing his course, but found he missed engineering so went along to the apprenticeship and jobs fair to see what opportunities were available.

He said: “I took my CV and got talking to different employers, which is how I came to meet Collis, my new employer. Collis is a rail engineering business that work on interesting rail industry projects such as HS2 and I wanted to find out more.

“They were interested in me too, and I was invited along to an interview. That went well and a few weeks ago I was taken on as the company’s first ever manufacturing engineering degree apprentice.”

Luke’s employer Richard Whitehead, Assurance Director with Collis, is pleased with Luke’s progress and happy to support events which promote recruitment and training in engineering.

Luke Payne learning from his employer, Richard Whitehead, at work.

He said: “Luke came along to see us at the Diveristyin2Engineering event and impressed us there and at his interview. He was just the sort of person we were looking for. We’ve worked with Derby College for more than 10 years now to deliver apprenticeships but Luke is our first degree apprentice.”

Luke is a planning assistant – a role which involves putting drawings into the system and using software to create the works and plan the manufacturing process for the company’s rail sector clients.

He added: “University wasn’t for me as I wouldn’t want to be in education full-time. This way I’m  learning on the job and gaining practical experience as well as studying for a degree – and I’m getting paid.

“My degree course is over three years and starts in September, with day release at The Roundhouse. My main aim now is to get my degree and hopefully stay with Collis after I’ve completed my apprenticeship.”

Collis was among 30 local employers to have a stand at the Diversityin2Engineering event. Hosted by Derby City Council, the careers fair was attended by students from Derby College and the University of Derby as well as secondary school pupils and local residents.