Four young people have been taking a step into Northamptonshire’s most famous trade by working as apprentices at Dr Martens in Wollaston.
Dan Church, Tim Bayes, Frankie Lister and Mollie Purbrick started in April and are set to each gain an NVQ Level 2 in Footwear Manufacture.
Mollie, 20, moved to the area from Brighton for the job and now lives in Little Irchester.
She said: “I love British clothes and Dr Martens was exactly that.”
Frankie, 23, lives in Irchester and moved from Lincolnshire for the apprenticeship.
She said: “Dr Martens is a brand I’ve always loved as a customer, I enquired about jobs a couple of times and saw this job on the website. I’m really, really enjoying it.
“I’m really interested in shoes and design and manufacture. I’m loving that I am learning something new, I’m constantly learning, it’s really varied too because you get to see all aspects of not just shoe making but what happens afterwards when it goes into retail.”
Frankie said the four apprentices had had a go at different tasks around the business and had worked at various stages of the shoe making process.
She said: “It’s really great to watch it go from cow hide to a finished shoe in one quite small space with quite a small team; it’s amazing to see.”
Tim, 18, who lives in Wollaston, said: “My dad tests shoes at Satra for Dr Martens so he is always talking about shoes.
“When I first came in I was shocked at how many processes there are to make the shoe, the standards of quality and stuff like that.
“You look at them doing it and think it’s going to be so easy, then you go and do it and it’s so hard.”
Tim said he was impressed with Dr Martens for setting up an apprenticeship scheme as it meant the shoemaking trade could be passed down to the younger generation.
He said: “When you think of a shoemaker I think of people who have been in the trade for 60 years. Dr Martens have opened it up so we have got a chance. I’m 18 and now I can get the experience and give it to other people.”
Dan, 21, who lives in Wellingborough, comes from a family of Dr Martens employees.
He said: “My family have worked at Dr Martens since I can remember. My nan, grandad, aunties, uncles, mum and dad have all worked here at one point in their lives. It was my nan who saw about the apprenticeships in the Telegraph and told me about it.
“She was telling me about what she used to do here, that’s what really drew me to it, I wanted to see it for myself, even if I didn’t get the job, I just wanted to go into the factory to see how it’s done.
“It was amazing to see.
“I’ve been brought up around it, it’s always been in my family, it’s like my family has got a history with the company.
“Now I’m actually here I can see why they wanted to go into it and do this. I never thought in a million years I would do anything like this.”
Stephen Bent, UK production manager for Dr Martens, said the apprenticeship scheme had been set up to pass on shoemaking skills to the next generation.
He said: “Across the country we have a problem in skilled areas where we have an aging workforce and there isn’t the investment in young people and there isn’t the continuation.
“In 15 years from now we are going to have an enormous problem if we don’t start investing in young people. The nice thing about this company is it’s a young peoples’ product, they come here with a fondness and they are keen on the product.”
The Dr Martens factory in Wollaston is in Cobbs Lane and is the firm’s only UK manufacturing site. The team take great pride in the footwear they produce and are keen to emphasise its Britishness.
Mr Bent said: “Everything made in this factory has a Made In England stamp on its sole and tongue and we make a big deal of that.”