Outstanding local construction and manufacturing apprentices have been recognised for their skills and high standards demonstrated in their efforts and achievements at an awards ceremony held as part of Plymouth’s National Apprenticeship Week 2024.
The Apprentice of the Year Awards were presented jointly by Building Plymouth and the Plymouth Manufacturers’ Group (PMG), with nominations submitted by local construction and manufacturing employers and training providers, with the awards recognising 45 talented finalist and winning apprentices who were celebrated at the ceremony held at Market Hall, Devonport.
Introducing the awards ceremony, Cllr Sally Cresswell, Cabinet Member for Education, Skills and Apprenticeships at Plymouth City Council said: “It is fitting to be holding this celebration in National Apprenticeship Week 2024 with the theme ‘Skills for Life,’ a good chance to reflect on how the opportunity to ‘earn while you learn’ can help both young people to start their career journey and adults to change career direction. Today’s apprentice awards truly represent the very best of achievement in two of Plymouth’s high growth sectors: construction and the built environment, and manufacturing and engineering. This important week and our Awards today, presents us with a great platform to shine a light on the amazing opportunities that an apprenticeship brings to employers, individuals and the economy. I thank all our local employers and training providers who continue to invest and support our apprentices. I am delighted to be able to share a personal congratulations to everyone celebrated.”
During the celebration, Daniel Alford was presented the highly respected Ron Simmonds Construction Trade Apprentice of the Year 2024 Award. Being recognised through his successful Level 3 Installation and Maintenance Electrician apprenticeship with ME Contracting Ltd and The Focus Training Group, Daniel said: “From first meeting my employer ME Contracting at the Building Plymouth Early Careers Fair in 2022 to today, I’ve really enjoyed my apprenticeship hands-on experience and training provided by Focus Training. Thank you for the recognition and I hope winning this award provides a springboard for my career.”
Next up, Elijah Bennett was awarded the prestigious Building Plymouth Technical Apprentice of the Year 2024 Award. Employed by the innovative service Shared Apprenticeships and hosted by Kier Construction with Exeter College, undertaking a Level 4 Construction Site Supervisor apprenticeship, on winning the award Elijah said: “Thank you for the award, it is an honour to be recognised. Thank you to both Kier Construction and Shared Apprentices for support during my apprenticeship journey. I look forward to the future and developing within my career.”
Presenting the construction apprentice awards, Nikki Griffiths, Partner at WWA and Vice- Chair of Building Plymouth said: “I was delighted and honoured to be able to present the awards to the outstanding Apprentices we have in the local Construction and Built Environment industry. It is great to see such a diverse range of skills being recognised and the pride everyone showed in winning their awards. It certainly felt that the industry is in a good place and is attracting such talented people to build their careers in a fantastic diverse range of roles. Building Plymouth has championed the various pathways to the work environment through many different routes and this is testament to its success in promoting construction as a career of choice.”
For 2024, the PMG Apprentice of the Year Awards were sponsored by Make UK, of which Jim Davison, Make UK’s Region Director for the South of England was on the judging panel and presented the awards to the winners and finalists. Jim commented, “Through the nominations process, we heard about the dedication that these apprentices have towards their apprenticeships, their companies and their colleagues, which is hugely reassuring for the growth and development of the manufacturing industry. While we especially congratulate the winners, we must applaud all the finalists for their hard work and passion for our sector which is why, once again, I am delighted to support the PMG Apprentice of the Year Awards and celebrate our industry’s future talent in this way.”
The first award was presented to Kane Garside, a Procurement and Supply Chain Apprentice at Babcock who won the PMG Business Rising Star Apprentice of the Year Award. Kane was delighted and said “I am incredibly honoured and grateful to have won the Business Best Rising Star Apprentice Award. This recognition means a lot to me and I am truly grateful for the opportunities and support, given by the Supply Chain Function at Babcock, that have led me to this point. Thank you for believing in me and helping me grow as a Supply Chain professional. I am excited for what the future holds and I am grateful to be recognized as a rising star in the business world!”
For 2024, it was impossible to differentiate between the strongest of the nominations for the PMG Manufacturing Final Year Apprentice of the Year Award and two joint winners were declared. They were Abbie Tucker of BD and Emily Taylor of Babcock. Abbie Tucker completed her Engineering Technician Level 3 - Mechatronics Standard with Cornwall College in October 2023. Abbie has also been recognised by BD globally for creating an injection mould manual which is now being utilised worldwide! Abbie said of her win: “Thank you to my employer BD for the recognition for this award. Proud to have won apprentice of the year and excited for the next chapter in my career within engineering.”
The next Joint Winner was Emily Taylor, who is currently in the Final Year of her Level 4 Engineering Manufacturing Technician Apprenticeship with City College Plymouth. Emily reflected on her win and said, “I am extremely proud to have jointly won the Plymouth Manufacturing Group (PMG) Best Final Year Manufacturing Apprentice. I am grateful for the opportunities I have taken through Babcock and thank the Early Careers team and my department for giving me an amazing start to my engineering career. I am excited to continue encouraging future generations of engineers whilst maintaining my own professional development. Plymouth is fortunate to have PMG as a fantastic network and continued growth in the sector is assured with their support in apprenticeship programmes. I am privileged to have been a part of this inspiring community in Plymouth.”
Karen Friendship, Managing Director at Aldermans and Chair of the Plymouth Manufacturers’ Group said of the winners and finalists: “As I employ apprentices and I know the huge pride we feel when we see them grow, not just in their abilities but also in their confidence in our companies. Plymouth is one of the UK’s Top Ten Cities with the largest concentration of manufacturing employment. And our sector contributes a higher than average percentage to Plymouth’s economy – which means our apprentices, are also critical to the economic growth and future success of our city and local area. These awards are a significant way to show them that we recognise their endeavours, their importance in our businesses and that we are, in turn, committed to them.”
At the awards ceremony, these Finalist, Highly Commended and Winning construction and manufacturing apprentices were all celebrated for their success and commended for the high standards they have shown in their achievements and skills developed during their apprenticeships.