Two female engineering apprentices are putting themselves in the driving seat towards careers at global automotive technology leader ZF.

The Peterlee-based company currently has 15 apprentices on its books and during National Apprentice Week, the spotlight is being shone on Beth Parodi and Holly Herron.

The apprentices, who have both been Sunderland College students, are proving to be real assets to ZF, which produces vehicle camera safety technology from its North West Industrial Estate site.

Twenty-one-year-old Beth, from Sunderland, is taking major strides towards a long-term career at ZF and such has been her progress during her three-year Supply and Quality Assurance apprenticeship that last night (Wednesday) she was awarded Sunderland College, Engineering Apprentice of the Year by her tutors during a glittering ceremony at Sunderland College.

Beth, who started at ZF in 2021, said: “I did not expect this award at all. It was a real surprise and I am over the moon to win it. My mentor from Sunderland College nominated me and said for him, I was an obvious choice for it which is great.

“I am really enjoying my apprenticeship at ZF and am making sure I push myself as much as I can, taking every opportunity that comes my way.

“I was recently involved in a new product launch for one of our major global clients and as part of this I learned about global standard auditing. Now I can do that, it means if they come for a site visit, I can be involved which is above and beyond the requirements of my apprenticeship.”

Holly was just 16 when she joined ZF, having been inspired to pursue a career in engineering by her father Paul, who himself was an engineer with the Royal Engineers and Scania.

The 22-year-old from Washington said: “I used to build things with my dad when I was growing up. We even built a pagoda in the back garden. Then one day my dad took me to his work and explained to me about how the machines and engines worked and I loved it, and knew that was what I wanted to do.

“After school I looked at engineering apprenticeships and ZF was recruiting for a maintenance apprentice. It really aligned with my passion for complex parts and fixing things, so I applied and was successful.

“At first it was quite nerve-wracking, coming into a male dominated environment, but everyone was great and have been so supportive throughout my apprenticeship.

“I have now passed my apprenticeship and a HNC and now am working towards a degree in engineering at Sunderland University, which I hope will help towards my ambition to move into maintenance management.”

Lisa Hudson, HR Manager at ZF, said: “Beth and Holly have been excellent additions to our future talent programme and are thriving in their respective teams. They are already proving to be real assets to the company.”