Meet our Alumni: George Hardesty - Student Stories - UTC Leeds

George Hardesty was talent-spotted for a top apprenticeship whilst on a work experience placement.

UTC Leeds graduate 19-year-old George Hardesty is doing an apprenticeship with the UK’s leading air conditioning manufacturer, Airedale International Air Conditioning.

The company designs and makes a range of high efficiency cooling solutions in three continents and exports to customers in over fifty countries. Airedale products are used in data centres, clean rooms, retail, leisure and process cooling.

George secured the apprenticeship at Airedale after doing work experience there when in the sixth form at UTC Leeds, as he explains: “When I went on work experience at Airedale, they really liked me and they said once I’d got my grades I should come and talk to them. I got my grades and they offered me an apprenticeship straight away to start in September.”

George is based at the company’s headquarters in Rawdon Leeds.  The 23,000m2 production facility includes a purpose-built test centre and state-of-the-art training school. George is currently working his way round the shop floor and finding out about every single part of building an air conditioning unit. He says, “Going round the shop floor, I can decide what I want to do by trying different things. I’m hopefully going to go into research and development, or design or service engineering, but I don’t know which yet.”

George continues, “You get a lot of experience from an apprenticeship that you wouldn’t get from university. I looked at jobs before I looked at university and I saw that you need experience as well as qualifications to get jobs, and you don’t really get that from uni. At Airedale I can get up to five years of experience and they pay for me to do a HNC and a HND in Mechanical Engineering. I thought, ‘Why would I go to uni? I’ll have a job at the end of my apprenticeship, as well as qualifications and experience.’”

Apprentices at Airedale start on a BTEC in Performing Engineering Operations as their foundation qualification then they’re encouraged to stay on and take a HNC and possibly a HND. Some go on to study degrees part time, or degree apprenticeships. The company offers a wide range of opportunities to join their Engineering Apprenticeship Scheme.

George is very positive about his time at UTC Leeds: “I really enjoyed my time at UTC Leeds. I learnt a lot of skills like using machines and lathes and putting things together, which I wouldn’t have learnt if I’d just done A Levels, and that’s given me an advantage starting at Airedale. For example, I built a drift track car in a month for my EPQ which involved designing, using a lathe, learning how to weld, stress-testing, loads of stuff. I learnt a lot at the UTC and it was really beneficial for me.”

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