Could you tell us a bit about your company?

WD Close was established in 1983 by William (Bill) Dixon Close. We're based in Wallsend which is a historic area known for its shipbuilding and heavy industry. WD Close & Sons Ltd. has grown over the last 39 years to become one of the most respected fabrication business in the North East. As a family-owned business, Bill's vision was to build a fabrication outfit that was committed to delivering high-quality, industry-leading products, creating a legacy for the Close family name. Coming from a background in the Royal Signals, a regiment renowned for their expertise in engineering and operating systems, our company vision was always to embrace the latest technologies to build on our operations.

Today, our business is run by Bill's son Chris Close and his long-standing colleague and family friend, Kelly Scott. Together, Chris and Kelly are committed to leading the fabrication industry into its next phase, building on past achievements while focusing on creating a forward-thinking business with a sustainable future. In recent years, WD Close has grown to provide a complete service in the supply of fabrication solutions to various sectors, including oil and gas, subsea and renewable energy, as well as working with the Ministry of Defence and many general engineering businesses throughout the UK.

Why did you choose to hire apprentices through Newcastle College?

Newcastle College is a well-established education provider within the North East. Many people at the company are familiar with their expertise in apprenticeships and securing the best industry placements for their high calibre students, so they seemed like the best choice to meet our demands for apprentices. Additionally, we often work closely with staff at their Energy Academy, which is also based in Wallsend, and, as a facilities training students for the renewable energy sector, it is absolutely second to none.

How have your apprentices from Newcastle College benefitted your business?

The main benefit of the apprenticeships is to support and strengthen the core staff we currently have working at WD Close. At the minute, there is a wide age gap within our business between the young apprentices coming in and the more mature workforce who work at the business full-time. Our hope is that by working together, our employees can pass on all their knowledge and experience to this new generation of fabrication workers, who can help make our business (and the industry as a whole) that much more dynamic.

What advice would you give to a business considering hiring an apprentice?

Make the jump! Hiring apprenticeships can only strengthen the workforce of your company and their presence means the technical and industry knowledge your employees have gained throughout their careers can be passed on from one generation to another. The young, hungry workforce you develop through apprenticeships also mean you plant the seeds for your business to grow and adapt into the future.

Why would you recommend Newcastle College apprenticeships to other employers? 

Newcastle College is transparent and helpful with the apprenticeship schemes they offer and their team also have a wide skillset available that can be applied to almost every corner of a business and adapted to suit your specific needs. The college has a fantastic reputation as a local provider of strong apprentices and we enjoy working alongside them.