An ambitious teenager hopes to inspire more youngsters in Thornaby-on-Tees to shine after being crowned the Northern Skills’ overall apprentice of the year.
Kaitlyn Sedgewick, a business apprentice with Middlesbrough-based critical power specialists Durata, has described how proud she is to have won the award.
And the 18-year-old would love to see more youngsters from her hometown follow in her footsteps by gaining similar recognition in the future.
Kaitlyn was named the overall winner at Rockliffe Hall by Northern Skills, the training and apprentice arm of Middlesbrough College Group.
“I was very surprised,” said Kaitlyn. “I was so nervous even though I knew I had been nominated.
“I just couldn’t wait to tell everyone. My mam, Kelly, was buzzing and when I drove back home I told my nana, Sandra, too and she was so proud of me. It obviously made me smile.
“You don’t normally hear or see that from Thornaby’s young people. Hopefully this shows what is possible when you put your mind to it. I’d love for others to think ‘I can do that’.”
During her school days at Thornaby Academy and Harewood Primary, Kaitlyn had periods where she wanted to be a policewoman, social worker and a solicitor.
When she left secondary school she initially had an unsuccessful apprenticeship at a local solicitors but then came across a business admin apprenticeship with Durata.
Kaitlyn has never looked back, highlighting to others that young women can succeed in an electrical and data industry still very much dominated by men.
“It is not easy because you have to learn in the environment you work in all the time, but I love working at Durata,” said Kaitlyn, who spends much of her spare time walking her Jack Russell, Rex, or watching Netflix.
“I have had a bad experience of an apprenticeship before, but this one has been so different. I went through Northern Skills, someone helped me write a CV and it got me the job.
“I had done a bit of business at college and my role started with invoices, answering the phone and learning what Jasmine (Smith) had been doing. Jasmine has been amazing, so has Alison McGee (quality director).
“I am still learning about the job. It is not easy to know about data centres, critical power, and I know a lot more about it now – I know what UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supplies) are for example.
“I felt when I came into this job I was quite mature, but I have matured a lot more in a job where I am predominantly surrounded by men. You have to.
“It was weird at the time being surrounded by men, but Jasmine, Alison and Melissa (McGee) have all made it easier to develop a deeper understanding of the business.”
It will be two years in April since Kaitlyn started with Durata and she is progressing into a sales and marketing position having successfully attacked the business administration Level 3 course.
Alison, who has seen Kaitlyn successfully plan networking events for the business, said: “She has worked bloody hard and got stuck into everything. We have had apprentices before where they come, take on a role and not put their heart and soul into it. Kaitlyn has.
“The good thing is she knows where she wants to be next which is in sales and marketing. She has shown so much eagerness to learn that we have given her other tasks to do which she has embraced.
“The key thing for Durata – and any business – is that people have to invest in their apprentices, otherwise you are not going to get the best out of them. it is about nurturing them and we feel like we have done that with Kaitlyn and she has delivered.”