In the first of five interviews to mark National Apprenticeship Week, we speak to Steve Seddon, Morson Group’s first ever apprentice. Here, he tells us a little more about his experience as an apprentice in the 1980s and the journey he has taken to become Morson Group’s client services director.
Words: Jennifer Morris
On February 3rd 1980 the Manchester engineering firm, Morson Projects, hired its first apprentice draughtsman, Steve Seddon. Already three years into a five-year apprenticeship, it was agreed that Steve could finish the last 18 months of his programme at the family-run company. “I think it was a sign of Morson’s growth,’ explains Steve, “so even then Morson was looking to create talent for the future.”
Choosing a career path was a little different in the late 1970s, ‘Not many people went to University in those days,’ agrees Steve, “most people would go into an apprenticeship. So that’s what I did – I spent four days in work and then one day in college, or a couple of nights at college on top of my weekend job, too!”
In the engineering industry, apprenticeships provide training and learning whilst working, and could be a significant investment for a company. Steve explains “Morson began to take on a couple of apprentices each year after I arrived, but then as my position developed into a more managerial role I encouraged more young people in the local area into mechanical and electrical engineering apprenticeships.
You earn while you learn, and get immediate exposure to an industry.
“I believe that if you start an apprenticeship with a company then they are more likely to be loyal to you – you have invested in them, as they have in you. That is certainly true of Morson. There are people here celebrating 10, 20 or even 30 years working with the company after they joined as apprentices. At Morson Projects especially there are lots of people who are in professional, high responsibility positions who started as an apprentice and have been with us for a long time.”
So, what are the prospects for a young apprentice draughtsman? After successfully completing his apprenticeship, Steve became adesigner before progressing to head of mechanical engineering, then drawing office manager before taking the role of business development director. That led to Steve being appointed managing director for Morson Projects until 2012 when he became Morson Group’s client services director.
“Being client services director for Morson Group means that I engage with our customers and stakeholders, look at the systems and processes – both engineering and business – and manage our major customer relationships.
“One of the unique things about Morson is that you can work on such a variety of diverse projects that it feels as though you change employers along the way! They have given me exposure to many different types of industries, their products, design procedures and tools. I have engaged with lots of customers, procurement, HR, apprentices, MDs and CEOs, and never stop learning.”