Wednesday, March 6, 2019

News: Silicon Valley CEO celebrates engineering talent of tomorrow at AMRC Training Centre Awards

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A retired Silicon Valley CEO whose life was changed by an apprenticeship has thrown his full support behind the 2019 AMRC Training Centre's Apprentice of the Year ceremony - putting his name to two new achievement awards.

Based on the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) in Rotherham, The AMRC Training Centre forms part of the University of Sheffield's Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) group and provides training in the practical and academic skills that manufacturing companies need to compete globally, from apprenticeship through to doctorate and MBA level.

Nominations are made by employers and trainers who want to recognise the achievement, innovation, fresh thinking or other contributions to industry shown by the apprentices, and are judged by a panel of AMRC Training Centre staff and award sponsors.

Details of the award winners can be found here.

This year, two new awards were handed out to worthy winners thanks to the generous support of Sheffield-born Dr Graham Siddall. Graham, who lives in the United States, has been following the training centre's progress from across the pond since it opened in 2014 and was keen to lend his hand to support this year's ceremony.

Graham is a huge advocate of apprenticeships having undertaken one himself as a young student at the age of 18. This was a life-changing decision for him as it laid the groundwork for a long-term career in precision engineering and semiconductor technology.

However, what makes his involvement in the awards even more significant is that he was born in Attercliffe and, as a young boy, played in the spoil heaps around what was once the Orgreave coking plant, the site on which the training centre is built and hopes to expand.

A bid has been in development for a £13m expansion.

"The awards evening is a great way to recognise and celebrate the hard work and achievements of apprentices" said Graham.

"Without the skill set that my apprenticeship gave me, I doubt that I could have had a more interesting and rewarding career. I was fortunate to be able to take advantage of the opportunities that were presented to me but I think it's much harder for young people today.

"That's why it is good to see the University of Sheffield participating in the training and education of apprentices through the AMRC as a complementary path to the more traditional degree courses. The fact that 750 potential candidates applied for 250 places last year at AMRC shows the demand is there from both young people and employers.

"To compete in today's highly competitive international economy we need the best possible skills at all levels and apprentice training is a key ingredient for success."

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Nikki Jones, director of the AMRC Training Centre, said: "We're looking forward to showcasing how our apprenticeships make a real difference to industry and celebrating the hard work and determination our talented apprentices have shown in wanting to become the much-needed and skilled advanced engineers of tomorrow.

"The standard of entries this year is excellent and the judging panel no doubt had some difficult decisions to make as all the nominees have shown tremendous levels of passion and commitment that make them a credit to their companies."

Last year's Apprentice of the Year winner was Ben Siddall from Barnsley, a production and perforation department manager at C&S Fabrications in Sheffield specialising in fabricated and perforated sheet metal.

The judges were struck by the positive effect Ben made within his workplace through incentives he implemented and were impressed with his passion and infectious enthusiasm for engineering.

Ben, whose prize for winning was a VIP tour of Boeing's production facilities at Everett, Renton and Portland in the USA (pictured, left) said: "Winning Apprentice of the Year was a valuable opportunity to show the manufacturing community the real difference apprentices are making to industry in the region and inspire more young people to show what's possible with an apprenticeship."

This week is National Apprenticeship Week which is coordinated by the National Apprenticeship Service and is designed to celebrate apprenticeships and the positive impact they have on individuals, businesses and the wider economy.

AMRC Training Centre website

Images: AMRC Training Centre

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