Wirral talent honoured at Engineering College’s Annual Apprentice Awards

Birkenhead’s Engineering College is celebrating the region’s young talent after unveiling a series of top awards for outstanding performances in 2017.

Close to 100 people gathered for the college’s 2017 Apprentice Awards in Monk’s Ferry.

A big winner on the night was Jennifer Corkill, from Stadler, who secured two awards – The Engineering College Development Stage Apprentice and The ‘Ian Yates’ contribution to Engineering Award for her outstanding progression.

Michael Dodd, of Teledyne CML, received The Jim Teasdale Apprentice of the Year award. It came just weeks after being named as a ‘runner up’ in the national Composites UK 2017 Industry Awards.

Meanwhile, the TWI Welder of the Year award was handed to Thomas Jones, from Cammell Laird, with the ECITB Apprentice of the Year award presented to Kurtis Kearns, of Studley Engineering.

A total of 11 awards were handed out on the night:

1. Pre- Apprenticeship Student of the Year – Andrew Casey, Brimark Signs
2. The Engineering College Foundation Stage Award – Jack Bendrey, National Marine
3. The Engineering College Development Stage Apprentice – Jennifer Corkill, Stadler
4. The Engineering College Further Development Stage Apprentice – Steven Butler, Balfour Beatty
5. Cammell Laird Development Stage Apprentice – Dean Scaife
6. Cammell Laird Apprentice of the Year – James Bowler
7. ECITB Apprentice of the Year – Kurtis Kearns, Studley Engineering
8. The Welding Institute Welder of the Year – Thomas Jones, Cammell Laird
9. IMECHE ‘Most Improved’ Apprentice – Zack Kirkman, AMF Engineering
10. The ‘Ian Yates’ contribution to Engineering Award – Jennifer Corkill
11. The ‘Jim Teasdale’ Apprentice of the Year – Michael Dodd, Teledyne CML.

Headline sponsors included Cammell Laird, ECITB (Engineering Construction Industry Training Board) and The Welding Institute (TWI) and the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

Engineering College CEO Terry Weston said the Annual Apprentice Awards are one of the most enjoyable and important events in the yearly calendar.

“The college has seen an exceptional intake of young engineers and strong progression with existing students this year,” he said. “This awards evening provides an opportunity to recognise the commitment and dedication shown by a range of students. The 2017 format included 11 awards in a bid to recognise each stage of an apprenticeship, as many of our student are with us for a number of years. Their progression is about embracing a journey. For this they need to develop professionalism, skill, knowledge and consistency over a period of time. Our students must show patience and tenacity to succeed.

“We hope the timing of our awards also resonates with industry as the national programme known as ‘Tomorrow’s Engineers Week’ gathers pace. We are highly supportive of this industry-led campaign. It involves more than 300 employers and professional bodies from across the engineering community joining universities, schools and individuals in a week-long drive to inspire the next generation of engineers. This work is essential to plugging the major skills gap which not only exists within or Liverpool City Region but the broader engineering sector across the entire UK.

“The Engineering College is fully focused on listening to the demands of the market place. We are working across a range of sectors including construction, nuclear, petrochemical, renewables, oil and gas and the NHS to address their own unique challenges.”

Special appearances were made by Tranmere Rovers FC Chairman Mark Palios, Cammell Laird Operations Director Mike Hill and Engineering College director Jim Teasdale who handed out awards.

The annual event was aptly timed to coincide with ‘Tomorrow’s Engineers Week’ – a national campaign that ran from November 6 to 10, designed to raise awareness of the UK’s major skills shortage. Programme organisers estimate around 186,000 new professional engineers will be needed each year through to 2024 to support industry demand.

Cammell Laird Operations Director Mike Hill handed out the Cammell Laird ‘Apprentice of the Year’ award, which he secured himself in 1997. He said: “The team at the Engineering College puts in a tremendous amount of hard work and dedication on a daily basis, adding value to the local community by putting circa 85 young people into full time employment each year.

“I was actually standing up here 20 years ago to the month, receiving this award and in fact was the first person to receive the Cammell Laird ‘Apprentice of the Year’ shield. I can remember the opportunities which were available to me at that time and like any young enthusiastic engineer, I grasped every opportunity that came my way. Amongst others, with similar stories to myself, we put in the hard work and dedication required and now, 20 years on I hold the position of Operations Director.

“It’s hard to grasp the magnitude of the opportunity that is available to us in the engineering sector in the coming years. Cammell Laird is hoping to engage in some huge market opportunities. Albeit there’s a lot of hard work to do to even try to become successful in these markets but the opportunity is very much there.

“This requires the guys here today who are picking up these awards to continue on the path they’re on, with drive, dedication & commitment. If these talented young apprentices can keep working hard it will certainly result in a bright future in the years to come.”

Mr Weston said the awards come at the tail end of another fast-paced and demanding year in which the college retained its footing as one of the best engineering training facilities in the region following a rigorous Ofsted inspection.

“We secured a repeat Grade 2 listing and praised in particular for ‘good progress’ in maintaining high achievement rates with more than three quarters of apprentices completing their programme within the planned timescale – significantly higher than national rates for similar providers,” he said.

“The college received further positive feedback for the rebrand and ‘celebration’ of diversity and equality with a higher proportion of applicants from under-represented groups, such as females. A significant portion of work throughout the last year has also been devoted to the Apprenticeship Levy and helping clients to manage and understand the new legislation.

“However, these are all necessary steps on our mission as the only dedicated engineering skills provider in the region. We provide a range of 20 high skill craft and technician training routes towards engineering qualifications which are not offered elsewhere. Our recently improved facilities include additional classroom space, welding and fabrication bays, heavy lift equipment, a CNC machine shop, an electronic workshop and a whole collection of new hi tech IT based engineering simulation equipment.”

Since setting up almost two decades ago in 1998, the Engineering College has driven turnover to £1.7million employing 38 staff. It has grown apprentice numbers to 330. The college benefit from a strong track record currently working with 70 clients including large private businesses like Cammell Laird, Balfour Beatty and Clarke Energy to SMEs including Sovex and Laker Vent.

For more information contact the Engineering College on Tel. 0151 666 1028, Email  info@theengineeringcollege.co.uk or visit the website www.theengineeringcollege.co.uk