A global automotive supplier is putting women in the fast lane after taking on its first female engineer.
Kelsey Richardson, 22, has been snapped up as an apprentice engineer by Peterlee-based ZF-TRW, after the company started working with Sunderland College to support it in developing the next generation of talent.
The company, which supplies automotive safety electronics to companies around the world, has been working with Sunderland College since November. The college has supported with Kelsey’s appointment, a milestone for a company which has traditionally seen male apprentices join it in engineering roles.
“You don’t see that many females in engineering and it’s somewhere that I believe we should be,” said Kelsey.
“Hands-on has always been a better way of learning for me, so an apprenticeship was always going to be right for me. Coupled with a love of engineering, that I gained thanks to my dad’s love of cars – we’d take them apart and rebuild them together when I was young – this really was the best option for me.
“At ZF-TRW, you get to work alongside experienced engineers. It’s something that you can’t learn from a book. I’d say to anyone, including females interested in this career path to go for it. I wish I had done it earlier.”
Kelsey, from Peterlee, is currently completing an NVQ Level 3 in engineering, which sees her time split between her employer and Sunderland College. Once she qualifies, Kelsey will then go on to study an HNC in manufacturing and engineering as part of her apprenticeship.
ZF-TRW plant manager, Robin Finley, said: “We are delighted with Kelsey’s contribution to the company, and it has been great to work with Sunderland College to give her rounded training that has allowed her to hit the ground running since she joined us.
“Engineering is still a male-dominated sector, so we have always seen a low number of applications coming from females. However, with an increased focus from schools and colleges on STEM subjects and the engineering career pathway, I hope that Kelsey will be the first of many female engineers to join us.”
The college recently opened a specialist facility in the city centre, its flagship City Campus, which includes an engineering training space that is training up scores of engineers.
College principal and chief executive, Ellen Thinnesen, said: “Advanced manufacturing and engineering are expected to see continued growth over the coming years, and it is vital that we are able to demonstrate to more young people the value of pursuing a career in this diverse field.
“Kelsey is one of a growing number of female engineering students attracted to the college, and we will remain committed to attracting more females into subjects within science, technology, engineering and mathematics, particularly in related engineering careers. For those who like thinking creatively to solve problems, engineering is an extremely rewarding career and Kelsey is a great example.
“We are delighted to support Kelsey as well as ZF-TRW, a first-class plant. Since our investment in top quality engineering facilities, we are now working with a growing number of engineering and