APPRENTICE Tom Donovan has been crowned student of the year - after earning his job with a little help from his ear-wigging dad.
His father Paul was a contractor fixing a machine at EE Ingleton Engineering when he heard operations director Terry Lee saying the company needed short-term cover.
Paul said his son was looking for a job, and just a few days later Tom had one.
Tom now has a four-year apprenticeship with day release training at Rotherham College - where he has just been named fabrication and welding student of the year.
The 20-year-old, from Owlthorpe, Sheffield, said: “I got a letter saying I had won the award and found it hard to believe – but it was great to pick it up.”
Terry said: “Like many companies, we have found a shortage of the right sort of people in recent years.
“We needed some short-term cover but the relief workers we brought in with basic engineering backgrounds proved unreliable, not turning up on time, having the wrong attitude - we had to get rid.
“Tom’s dad was a contractor fixing one of our machines and he just happened to overhear me discussing the situation with our production manager. He tapped me on the shoulder saying his lad was looking for a job.
“It was 3pm on the Friday, and we needed someone quickly, so I said to send him down for an interview on the Monday.”
After a very successful trial period Terry decided Tom was someone they could not afford to let go and so took him on full-time.
Terry said: “We had an issue in the fabrication area where if one guy was off it caused major problems.
“Tom had shown a great attitude so we decided to offer him an apprenticeship to help us address this skills shortage.
“He has only had one day off in two years. He came to us with average GCSE results but he is intelligent and has learned very quickly on the job - even suggesting to supervisors how machinery can be better utilised.”
Tom added: “I really enjoy the job, especially the welding. My training is really interesting and it is great to be recognised but it is the people I work with who make it. My parents are really proud and I am grateful for dad’s help.”