Eighteen-year-old Leigh Worsdale became the first female apprentice to win the Apprentice of the Year’ award supported by Boeing at Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) Training Centre’s ‘Apprentice of the Year’ awards held at the University of Sheffield (30 March).
As part of her award, Leigh, who works as an apprentice Heavy Duty Diesel Engine Builder for Foxwood Diesel in Chesterfield, will visit Boeing’s factory in Washington State, outside Seattle to see first-hand how the global aerospace company designs, tests and builds its 737 aircraft.
The Apprentice of the Year award, which is supported by Boeing, uses nominations from apprentice employers and trainers and is judged by a panel of members of the AMRC Training Centre staff and award sponsors.
Judges were ‘overwhelmingly’ impressed by Leigh’s confidence and spoke about how she continuously seeks ways to improve her workplace and its processes. Leigh has been responsible for introducing a number of incentives at Foxwood Diesel that have helped to improve the business.
Speaking at the awards, Apprentice of the Year winner, Leigh Worsdale, 18, said:
“I’m shocked to win but it’s amazing and the prize is so good!”
Foxwood Diesel Managing Director, Ken Worsdale said she was enthusiastic, dedicated to the company and well in advance of her training plan.
Leigh, who is from Chesterfield, applied for an apprenticeship after her GCSEs because she wanted to gain experience while getting paid. She was inspired by the facilities at the AMRC Training Centre after attending one of the centre’s open days with her school.
She was awarded an apprenticeship under the Close Brothers SME Apprentice Programme, which contributes to the cost of apprentices to help SMEs recruit and train a new generation of advanced engineers.
Leigh said her highlights from the Training Centre were meeting new people with the same interests and learning about maintenance and the tech support in engineering.
Other winners at the AMRC Apprentice of the Year Awards were:
- Fabrication and Welding Apprentice of the Year, Joshua Foxton of ACS Stainless
Sponsored by Sheffield International Venues
- Maintenance Apprentice of the Year, Joshua Corton of Printaply
Sponsored by Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence
- Machining Apprentice of the Year, Ben Middleton of Polypipe
Sponsored by Sandvick Coromant
- Technical Support Apprentice of the Year, James Buddle of Carrs Silver
Sponsored by Close Brothers
- Academic Achiever of the Year, Dylan Shaw, Ancon
Sponsored by Barnsley College
- First Year Apprentice of the Year, Leigh Worsdale of Foxwood Diesel, highly commended Sam Johnson of Vulcan Engineering
Sponsored by AMRC with Boeing
- Higher Achiever Apprentice of the Year, Sam Ferguson of Evenort
Sponsored by The University of Sheffield
- Mentor of the Year, as voted by the AMRC Training Centre apprentices, John Dobinson
Sponsored by Apprentice Employment Agency
Special recognition awards (sponsored by the Manufacturing Technologies Association, Huvema and Close Brothers) were also given to Cosmin Dragan, a plastic fabricator at Rotherham Industrial Plastics, Adrian Salatowski from Hallam Castings and Rolls Royce apprentice Alexandra Smith.
Director of the AMRC Training Centre, Kerry Featherstone, said: “This is a significant event in the AMRC Training Centre calendar. Our job on the judging panel was not easy; they have all done such a wonderful job. All the nominees were a credit to themselves and their organisations during the presentations.”
Professor Sir Keith Burnett, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sheffield, said: “My warmest congratulations to Leigh for her milestone and well-deserved success. I am extremely proud of the achievements of our talented apprentices and of those who train and mentor them at our AMRC Training Centre.
“The UK desperately needs skilled engineers to help boost productivity and growth in our economy and our apprentices really are the future of skilled manufacturing workers, and of course this crucially includes our talented women engineers.
“The numbers of young people choosing an apprenticeship are increasing but we need to do much more to ensure these are of the very highest quality and so change the stigma around these qualifications.
“Our apprentices are an important part of our University and prized to the companies who sponsor and employ them. They are a magnet to inward investors seeking skills and a crucial part of the U.K’s future economy. We are delighted that in Sheffield, our University has seen and invested in the highest quality education of all kinds. We are providing opportunities for future development of degree apprentices, postgraduate apprentices and even routes to PhDs. We will not limit talent in any form.