The pioneering apprentice proving doubters wrong

A DETERMINED apprentice is thriving at an established business in Oldham as she bids to prove what girls can achieve in a manufacturing industry.

Ellie Shepherd is the first female apprentice in a shopfloor role at Hill’s Panel Products (HPP), where she is completing her Level 2 Furniture Manufacturer Apprenticeship.

The 17-year-old decided to pursue a manual apprenticeship after seeing her brother Sam, 19, working as a cabinet maker but she was met with some scepticism.

Ellie Shepherd

“I was told I should think about working in a pharmacy, or some kind of work like that,” Ellie said.

“But when I saw what my brother was doing, I said that’s what I wanted to do, and even though people said I wouldn’t be able to, I said I was going to prove everybody wrong!

“I want to get as many qualifications as I can to go higher in the company, becoming a supervisor and even a manager. I want to prove that a girl can do that. I think more girls would like it, it’s never boring and you’re always busy.”

Ellie left the Co-op Academy in Failsworth last year with six GCSEs and had started her apprenticeship at another business in Oldham before joining HPP, which manufactures and supplies board, doors, fittings and accessories to the fitted kitchen and bedroom industry.

Ten months into her 18-month qualification, the Chadderton teenager is enjoying the experience of developing new skills in a professional setting.

“I’m learning quickly, and I’m already signed off on the saw, which I’m buzzing about,” she said. “Everyone here is dead friendly and very professional. I’m grateful I’ve got this opportunity, they’re teaching me such a lot.”

Dan Mounsey, HPP’s Marketing and Business Development Director, explained: “We were originally recruiting for warehouse and logistics but, after we interviewed Ellie, it was clear that the role she would be doing with us would fit the Furniture Manufacturer qualification, so it made sense for her to carry on with that rather than start again and lose all the progress she had made.”

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