Apprenticeship Awards: From apprentice to management for Thorne toolmaker

Mark Benson, who began his career as an apprentice with Mason Pinder and now works in management at Polypipe.
Mark Benson, who began his career as an apprentice with Mason Pinder and now works in management at Polypipe.

A man who began his career as an apprentice has continued his training and is now a key part of a management team.

Mark Benson started his career in May 1997 as an apprentice toolmaker for Mason Pinder on Polypipe's site in Thorne.

He spent time in each department during the four year course, finishing as a fully-trained toolmaker working on the manufacture and repair of injection mould tooling.

"The apprenticeship turned out to be the making of me, offering a sound education centered around the career I had chosen, and offering me personal support along the way," said Mark.

"It was an opportunity to learn on the job, and to learn to respect the experience of my peers who were passing on their knowledge daily."

Once his apprenticeship ended, Mason Pinder continued to train Mark in other disciplines within the company. After several periods of restructuring he became head of the electro discharge machining department.

He said: "I continued to develop personally and professionally, with Polypipe constantly investing in my skill set, and became an integrated member of the design and programming team, working on cad cam activities."

In 2013 Mark was asked to lead a new department servicing plant repairs and extrusion modifications, predominantly for the Neale Road site, from within Mason Pinder.

Alongside his existing responsibilities, Mark also visited sites within the Polypipe group to offer technical solutions and repairs for bespoke projects.

He was required to design, program and oversee the manufacturing process of these projects.

Mark's training has not stopped. He said: "In early 2016 I was offered the opportunity to become part of the Polypipe leadership development program, again giving me the chance to develop personally and professionally.

"The skills I received during this program were tailored to suit the business needs, but have also given me a fresh outlook on how to apply myself in different areas of my working life."

And after 19 years with Mason Pinder, Mark was offered the chance to join Polypipe as assistant maintenance manager.

Johnston Press titles in South Yorkshire and the North Midlands, including The Star and the Doncaster Free Press have launched an awards scheme to recognise the increasing value of apprenticeships to the success of the region.

Polypipe is the lead award sponsor.

For more details, including online entry form and criteria for each category, visit