Artworker apprentices Michal and William are on brand with Sonoco Trident

Two former Ron Dearing UTC students are thriving as they begin their careers with the world’s fastest-growing and most innovative digital brand management business.

Sonoco Trident’s headquarters is at Kingswood in Hull, but the company also has teams based in Europe, America, Asia and Australia.

Michal Ignatowicz and William Blake, both 19, have joined the team as artworker apprentices and will complete a Level 3 Diploma in Creative Digital Marketing and Design through Hull College over the next 18 months.

With many of Sonoco Trident’s global workforce working from home due to the Covid-19 pandemic, William and Michal initially started their new roles in the same way. However, they have spent the past two months based in the Hull office to gain first-hand experience as they build on their knowledge and skills.

Their roles primarily involve ensuring content sent by customers is correct, follows legal and sizing rules, is brand consistent, and that artwork is print-ready.

Artworker apprentices Michal Ignatowicz (foreground) and William Blake (background).


Michal, from east Hull, who achieved a double Distinction* in Creative Digital and a Merit in Computer Science at Ron Dearing UTC, said: “I’ve always wanted to do something involving graphic design and it was definitely the right decision to go to Ron Dearing UTC because it has given me the opportunity to work here.

“It’s a huge, global company and I’m really enjoying it so far. It’s fun and interesting, and I’m looking forward to seeing what the future brings.”

William, from Beverley, who achieved a double Distinction* in Creative Digital and a Distinction in Art and Design at Ron Dearing UTC, said: “The employer-led projects we completed at Ron Dearing UTC helped me to get to this point because they encourage you to think in the right way for work.

“I’ve always loved creating and design, and this apprenticeship is helping to boost my knowledge.

“It could also give me chance to travel and get involved in volunteer schemes through the company in the future, so there are lots of opportunities.”

Artworker apprentices William Blake and Michal Ignatowicz.


Michal and William are two of five apprentices employed by Sonoco Trident in the company’s latest cohort, which also includes two other apprentice artworkers and one apprentice customer service representative. They spend one day per week at Hull College while also completing additional course units online.

They are following in the footsteps of former Ron Dearing UTC student Cameron Davies, 19, who was the first student from the employer-led school to be taken on by Sonoco Trident as an apprentice last year.

Sonoco Trident is a Major Partner of Ron Dearing UTC and works with eight out of 11 of the largest consumer goods companies in the world, including Gillette and Soltan. In all, more than 2,000 of the world’s leading brands trust the business with their brand integrity.

The company launched its Trident Academy earlier this year, which encourages employees who are beginning their careers with the business to focus on teamwork, personal brand and core values.

Harry Gawthorpe, Operations Manager at Sonoco Trident, is managing and training Michal and William and said they’ve made a fantastic first impression.

He said: “It’s very beneficial to bring new people in. Our industry requires a very specific and bespoke skill set and we want to pass those skills on to the younger generation.

“Michal and William have come in with a great, positive attitude, they’re eager to learn and they take advice really well.

“There is a level of complexity to what we do that is difficult to carry out while working remotely, so we wanted to get them into the office and they’ve made great progress already. They’ve really had to roll their sleeves up and get involved.

“The way they learn at Ron Dearing UTC has helped them to adapt within the business and the way we’re currently working. They’re very flexible, resilient and confident about working with other teams, which is important and great to see.”

Pictured left to right – Artworker apprentice William Blake, Harry Gawthorpe, Operations Manager at Sonoco Trident, and fellow artworker apprentice Michal Ignatowicz.

Further study opportunities improve students’ employability

Sixth form students at Ron Dearing UTC are embracing the opportunity to gain additional industry-recognised qualifications to give them the edge as they prepare for their future.

Thirty-five Year 13 engineering students are currently completing accredited qualifications in Autodesk technology, which includes 2D and 3D modelling.

Art and creative digital students can apply to complete an Adobe software qualification, while digital tech and computer science students can apply to complete a Microsoft Technology Associate certification, which supports their interests and expands their knowledge.

In addition, students will be offered the chance to study Microsoft Office Specialist qualifications, ensuring they have a greater understanding of the package.

The school’s Founding and Employer Partners have played a key role in funding and suggesting the courses for students to complete during their 40-hour educational working week.

The courses, which are completed and assessed during school hours and include an online exam, are based around the school’s specialisms and support the students in becoming even more work-ready before they take up apprenticeships, employment or move on to university.

This additional layer of professional qualifications enhances the school’s already well-established employer-led curriculum and it is hoped all Ron Dearing UTC students will be able to access all of the courses available in the future.

Year 13 students Bradley Lawrence and CJ Ambler.


Lisa Regan, Lead Practitioner for Professional Qualifications at Ron Dearing UTC, said: “This is a massive opportunity for students who want to work in specialist industries and our Employer Partners are very keen to see students coming through with these qualifications.

“It is made very clear to the students that the core curriculum is the main focus. But these qualifications are incredibly valuable bolt-ons for our Employer Partners.

“Our general qualifications equip our students for lots of different avenues, but this gives them a bump up in areas of their interest and means they’re ahead of their peers when applying for apprenticeships or employment.

“The students choose whether they want to complete the qualifications and the response has been really good so far. The Employer Partners have been really engaged in this and are excited to see the influence it has, as this will also help to inform the curriculum going forward.

“It means they’re ready for current industry practices and are in the best possible position.”

Students have up to a year to complete each course and have access to the school’s state-of-the-art technology to complete the work.

The courses are run through Prodigy Learning, a multi-award winning global EdTech business, which provides digital skills certifications and learning solutions for Microsoft and other technologies.

Year 13 student Bradley Lawrence, 17, who is among the students completing the Autodesk qualification, said: “It makes you more employable and looks better on your CV. I’d like to go into the design side of engineering through an apprenticeship and this will help me when I apply. It’s a great opportunity.”

Fellow Year 13 student CJ Ambler, 17, said: “No matter where I go after Ron Dearing, this shows I’ve chosen to do this as an extra qualification and it’s independent learning. It’s easy to manage alongside my other subjects.”

Year 13 student Alex Burr.


Alex Burr, 17, hopes to study Civil and Structural Engineering with a year in industry at university when she leaves Year 13 next year.

She said: “I jumped at the chance to complete the Autodesk qualification. It will hopefully help me to stand out over someone who hasn’t got it. This is  one of many things Ron Dearing UTC offers to help us to progress.”

Apprentices who are not former Ron Dearing UTC students and take up apprenticeships with the school’s Employer Partners could also be given the chance to complete the courses in the future, with the school positioning itself as a training provider.

Kris MacDonald, Senior Director for Wound Advanced Manufacturing Engineering at Ron Dearing UTC Founding Partner Smith+Nephew, who also chairs the school’s Curriculum Committee, said the Autodesk qualification in particular will be useful to students and businesses, including Smith+Nephew.

He said: “At Smith+Nephew Hull, Autodesk is part of an engineer’s job and it’s nice to have. It shows a degree of aptitude, shows they can problem solve at a level that’s affective in many ways.

“Ron Dearing UTC is very mindful of skills that are relevant today and is forward looking. They translate that from their Employer Partners in a way that is meaningful and powerful to the students through their lesson plans.”

Applications fly in for sought-after places at Ron Dearing UTC

Almost 300 prospective students have applied for a place at Ron Dearing UTC in September 2021, underlining support for the pioneering, employer-led school, described by Ofsted earlier this year as a “guiding light in the educational sector”.

120 applications were received before the first Open Event of the academic year on October 8, followed by a further 160 over the next three days.

In addition, four applications have already been received to join Year 10 in September 2022.

Stringent Covid-19 rules were in place for the Open Event and each student was allowed to attend with one parent or guardian at an allocated time to experience the state-of-the-art school first-hand.


As well as finding out about the unique curriculum, visitors talked to staff and watched students participating in specialist activities in Science, Engineering, Art, Computing and virtual reality. In addition to hearing from Principal Sarah Pashley, they met many of the school’s Founding and Employer Partners, including a number of the region’s leading businesses.

Ron Dearing UTC has been significantly oversubscribed every year since it opened its doors in September 2017 and this year reached its capacity of 600 students, aged from 14 to 19.

There are 150 places available for Year 10 and a further 150 for Year 12 in September 2020.

The Open Event saw almost 200 prospective students attend with their parents or guardians across the evening.

Michael Ugbede with son Dafe Mike-Ugbede, 13, tour the school


Dafe Mike-Ugbede, 13, from east Hull, was accompanied by his father, Michael Ugbede, and hopes for a place in Year 10 in September 2021.

Dafe said: “There are so many experiences and opportunities here and  it will help to prepare me for the future. I really liked the virtual reality suite and I’m excited by the possibility of learning here.”

His father added: “Dafe has always been a very bright boy and always strived for the best. I believe this is a school for excellence and there is everything here for him to choose what he wants to become.”

Ethan Bird, 13, with mum Lisa Bird


Ethan Bird, 13, from east Hull, hopes to join Year 10 in September next year and attended the Open Event with his mother, Lisa.

He said: “I want to come to Ron Dearing UTC because there are more opportunities here and I’m really interested in Creative Digital. The technology they have is great.”

Potential Year 10 student Kitty Every, 14, from North Ferriby, who was joined by her father, said: “I really like the school and I’m interested in the digital element of art and design.

“I like the fact that you can do your core subjects, but also have a choice of others. It’s an amazing school and I hope I get a place here.”

Jack Williams, 15, from Kingswood, Hull, who hopes to join the school’s sixth form in September 2021, said: “I’d really like an engineering apprenticeship. The equipment is really good and I’ve got a great first impression. Everyone is really friendly, they treat you like an adult and it feels like a very professional environment, including being on first name terms with everyone.”

KCOM staff speak to prospective students


Visitors were able to speak to former Ron Dearing UTC students who have taken up apprenticeships with some of the region’s leading businesses, including those from Founding Partner Spencer Group. The business currently employs 19 former Ron Dearing UTC students, many of whom had work experience at the company before joining.

Principal Sarah Pashley said: “We’re really pleased that we were able to hold our Open Event in our amazing building rather than having to run a virtual event due to Covid-19.

“It was great to meet so many enthusiastic and interested young people and their parents and to create the opportunity for them to talk to our staff and students in person about the opportunities available here.

“I’m very grateful to our employer partners for attending so that visitors could hear from them how and why they are involved with Ron Dearing UTC and see first-hand what a brilliant contribution they make.

“It was also lovely to see so many of our ex-students who are now employed by them and to hear how well their careers are going.

“A great deal of planning and preparation went into ensuring that this was a Covid-safe event and I’m delighted so many people turned up.

“It’s a shame we had to cap the numbers of visitors but anyone who wasn’t able to come to this event can register for tickets for our next event in November. They’ll need to hurry up, though, as it’s filling up fast!”

Yvonne Moir, Spencer Group, with former students Jack Waslin and Harry Barwell.


Students interested in joining Ron Dearing UTC in Year 10 or Year 12 from September 2021 can register to attend the next Open Events on November 12 or January 15. To book a place, click here

To apply for a place at the school, click here.

Ron Dearing UTC students secure prized apprenticeships despite Covid-19 pandemic

Dozens of students from Hull’s employer-led school have secured sought-after apprenticeships with some of the region’s leading employers despite the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

With other school leavers gaining places at university, securing employment or going into the Armed Forces, it means almost all Year 13 students who left Ron Dearing University Technical College (UTC) this summer have moved onto a positive destination.

Former Ron Dearing UTC students, from left, Tom Dubej, Oliver Walkington, Charlie Hutty, Corben Spencer and Olly Kneeshaw with Gary Thornton, Managing Director of their new employer, Spencer Group. Picture: Karl Andre Photography.


Twenty-five former sixth form students have now begun apprenticeship programmes at eight different businesses after completing their A-level and technical qualifications, with some chosen for the opportunities over hundreds of other applicants.

Their apprenticeships vary from rail technician to web developer, software engineer, IT support, research and development, laboratory technician and more.

As well as the Year 13 students, a further 11 learners from Year 11 have also secured apprenticeships with local employers.

Digital technology, communications and IT services provider KCOM, which is also a Founding Partner of Ron Dearing UTC, has taken on three apprentices from the school with the students chosen from 500 applicants for 10 positions.

The new Spencer Group apprentices with Managing Director Gary Thornton outside the company’s head office on Hull Marina. Picture: Karl Andre Photography.


Two other Founding Partners, RB, the world’s foremost consumer health and hygiene company, and Spencer Group, one of the UK’s leading privately-owned engineering businesses, have taken on two and five apprentices respectively. The Spencer Group apprenticeship recruitment builds on last year’s intake of 14.

Siemens Mobility has taken on two apprentices to be among the first 700 employees at its pioneering rail manufacturing facility in Goole, which is due to open in 2023. Siemens Mobility is the sister company of Ron Dearing UTC Founding Partner Siemens Gamesa.

Ron Dearing UTC Major Partner Sonoco Trident, the world’s fastest-growing and most innovative digital brand management business, has taken on two apprentices.

Meanwhile, Major Partner Arco, the UK’s principal safety company, and global energy business BP have each taken on one apprentice, while Pure Renewables, which designs, specifies and installs renewable heating systems, has also hired a Ron Dearing UTC student for an apprenticeship.

Ron Dearing UTC Principal Sarah Pashley said she was delighted so many students had secured apprenticeships leading them on the path to exciting, fulfilling and rewarding careers.

She said: “This has been an enormously difficult year. We know how tough it has been for many businesses, employees and students, with job losses and the reduction in training programmes due to the economic impact of the pandemic.

“In these circumstances it’s remarkable that so many of our sixth form leavers have moved on to fantastic apprenticeships with world-class businesses.

“Our students have worked so hard for these opportunities and have overcome the many challenges posed by the Covid-19 crisis. They deserve every success and I’m so proud of them.

“We’re so grateful for the continued support of our employer partners and other local businesses for giving our students these life-changing opportunities to progress towards wonderfully bright futures. It demonstrates their continued confidence in our school and the talent we produce.”

Siemens Mobility apprentices Megan Turner, left, and Kate Rodley, with Director of Localisation, Finbarr Dowling. The new recruits have both joined from Ron Dearing UTC. Picture: Sean Spencer, Hull News & Pictures.


Ron Dearing UTC in Hull city centre caters for students aged between 14 and 19 and has a specialist focus on digital technology, creative digital and digital engineering. The school was rated “Outstanding” across the board by Ofsted in its first inspection earlier this year,

Tim Shaw, Managing Director, KCOM Wholesale and Networks, said: “I know how excited the team are to have the apprentices join the business. Many people within KCOM were apprentices themselves and it makes such a difference to the organisation to come through the business on a similar journey to them.”

Gary Thornton, Managing Director at Spencer Group, said: “In light of the Covid-19 pandemic and at a time when employment is very tough to secure, it’s a great privilege to be part of a business that can give these young people this opportunity and put them on the first step to success.

“Preparing people for work is one of the great successes we have seen at Ron Dearing UTC.”

Candice Monge, R&D Associate at RB, said: “Ron Dearing UTC offer their students great experience and business acumen, and their partnership with organisations like ours sets them apart.”

Megan Turner, left, and Kate Rodley, who have joined Siemens Mobility as apprentices after leaving Ron Dearing UTC. Picture: Sean Spencer, Hull News & Pictures.


Finbarr Dowling, Director of Localisation for Siemens Mobility Limited, is a former Ron Dearing UTC Governor and played a key role, together with Patron Alan Johnson and Chair of Governors, Charlie Spencer OBE, in establishing the school.

He said: “I couldn’t be prouder that the first intake of apprentices for our Goole rail manufacturing facility includes two students from Ron Dearing UTC. Their appointment as among our first apprentices testifies to the fantastic talent that Ron Dearing UTC develops.”

As well as the apprenticeship successes, 28 Year 13 students have secured university places, six of them with the elite Russell Group of universities.

Sarah Pashley added: “We’re equally delighted that so many of our sixth form leavers have now gone on to their chosen universities.

“This shows how our curriculum offers a unique combination of technical and academic learning and enables our students to progress either directly to the workplace or onto higher education for further study and future career opportunities.”

  • Ron Dearing UTC is now recruiting for places available in Years 10 and 12 in September 2021, with the first Open Event of the academic year on Thursday, October 8. For further information and to apply to join the school click here.

Apprentices with the world at their feet

They were given the platform to succeed at Ron Dearing UTC, now these are among the apprentices embarking on exciting careers with some of the region’s biggest employers.

Josh Fry, 18, a software engineering apprentice at KCOM: “This is a dream come true for me because KCOM is where I’ve wanted to be since I joined Ron Dearing UTC. It’s perfect and I’m so pleased I can start work straight away.

“Ron Dearing UTC’s connections with KCOM and the courses the school offers linked to coding set me up with the skills and knowledge I needed for this opportunity.”

Josh Peck, 18, a research and development (R&D) apprentice at RB: “After just a week of work experience at RB, I knew I wanted to work for them. Ron Dearing has given me the support, advice and experience I needed to get here.”

Kate Rodley, 18, a rail technician apprentice with Siemens Mobility: “I’m thrilled to start my career here. The apprenticeship offers travel opportunities too, which is really exciting.

“Ron Dearing UTC helped me to get this apprenticeship and reach out to Siemens. They push you to be the best you can be.”

Tom Dubej, 18, an engineering apprentice at Spencer Group: “This is big opportunity for me and I’m embracing it. The support I received at Ron Dearing UTC was great and I’m very proud to be here now. I’ve always wanted to go into engineering and this apprenticeship is a perfect fit for me.”

Dylan and Josh embrace home and on site working as they begin apprenticeships with RB

Two Ron Dearing UTC students are embracing home and on site working after taking apprentice roles at the world’s leading consumer health and hygiene company.

Dylan Harrison and Josh Peck, both 18, have joined RB as an Information Technology (IT) apprentice and Research and Development (R&D) apprentice respectively.

As well as gaining practical experience at RB’s Dansom Lane site in Hull, Dylan will complete an Information Systems Business Analyst qualification with a local training provider over 18 months as part of his four-year apprenticeship.

Meanwhile, Josh will complete a four-and-a-half year Applied Bioscience degree through the University of Kent, studying online and spending three days per week on site.

Dylan and Josh have joined a significant proportion of RB’s Hull workforce who are currently working from home, wherever possible, in line with Government advice.  As the Covid-19 pandemic continues across the globe, RB’s first priority is always the safety, security and health of its employees.

Numerous measures have been put in place to ensure business continuity and to maintain the supply of RB’s essential product ranges from Hull which include Dettol, Gaviscon and Nurofen.

RB is a Founding Partner of Ron Dearing UTC and helps to guide, advise and support students as they prepare for the world of work or university, as well as offering work experience, helping to shape the curriculum and providing apprenticeships.

Marc Kirk, Senior IT Manager for Research and Development (R&D) at RB, and IT apprentice Dylan Harrison, speaking to Katy Stevens, PR Executive at Meehan Media and Comms.


Dylan and Josh follow in the footsteps of three former Ron Dearing UTC students who were the first to take up apprenticeships with RB last year.

Dylan, who lives in Skirlaugh, east of Hull, said: “I’m over the moon to have this opportunity. I believe experience counts for so much and this apprenticeship is going to give me that massive leg up, so I’m really excited.

“The additional subjects and enrichment opportunities Ron Dearing UTC offers help you to prepare for work. I’ve always had high aspirations and I’m proud of myself for taking this pathway with RB.”

Dylan’s apprentice role includes becoming a “face of IT” within the business and helping colleagues to understand IT, rather than solely office-based work.

His manager, Marc Kirk, Senior IT Manager for Research and Development (R&D) at RB, said while working from home can be a challenge for team members, Dylan has adapted positively.

Marc said: “It’s hard because they’re not being immersed in what physically happens, they’re not building a physical network and they’re not experiencing in person the challenges that happen every day.

“But Dylan has adapted really well and has been into the office one to two days per week so far. It’s so important, at this stage in his career, for him to have some real hands-on experience.

“Dylan’s energy, drive and fresh thinking about how technology is used by people of his age offers something different to us. He comes to us geared up to create value quickly rather than needing a lot of energy and effort, and that work-readiness is down to Ron Dearing UTC.”

Candice Monge, Research and Development (R&D) Associate at RB, with R&D apprentice Josh Peck, speaking to Katy Stevens, Meehan Media and Comms PR Executive.


Josh, from east Hull, is currently based at RB’s Hull site three days per week, working in the Veet team and learning about functionality, stability testing and various Veet products.

He said: “Being able to learn practical skills in the lab and having that supplemented by university is the ideal combination. After one week of work experience at RB last year, I knew I wanted to work here.

“Ron Dearing UTC offers a unique experience and the support and advice is great. I really enjoyed my time there.”

Josh’s manager, Candice Monge, R&D Associate at RB, said: “Josh has settled into the team really well. I’m really excited to have someone to teach and to see him find his feet and enjoy what he does.

“Ron Dearing UTC offer their students great experience and business acumen, and their partnership with organisations like ours sets them apart.”

RB has a heritage in Hull stretching back 180 years and last year opened a new £105m Science and Innovation Centre in the city – the single largest single investment in the company’s history.