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Leeds Manufacturing Festival Awards 2023: What being nominated means to our apprentices here at Kirkstall Precision Engineering

The 2023 Leeds Manufacturing Festival sees the return of the Leeds Manufacturing Festival Awards, recognising the achievements of the sector’s next generation of manufacturing leaders and rising stars, together with best practice in training and workforce development. 

2022 saw our very own Linus Gallagher shortlisted for apprentice of the year and we know first hand that even being nominated was a huge deal for him both personally and professionally. This year, two of Kirkstall Precision Engineering’s apprentices have been nominated, so we are doubly proud especially when you consider the benefits such nominations mean to both them and us as a business.

What it means to our business and our apprentices to be nominated.

Firstly, being nominated for an award is a great source of validation and recognition for the hard work and effort put into their apprenticeship. It also serves as a morale boost to motivate them to continue to excel in their work and learning.

Secondly, being recognised as a potential winner of the Young Apprentice of the Year Award could provide them with increased visibility and exposure in our industry, and networking with other professionals.

Lastly, being nominated for such an award ensures they feel like they are making a meaningful contribution to the manufacturing industry, which gives a sense of pride and fulfilment in their work.

Overall, being nominated for the Leeds Manufacturing Awards Young Apprentice of the Year Award has a positive impact on a young apprentice’s professional development and confidence in their abilities and also serves to validate our management team’s commitment to growing our own and aiding in closing the skills gap currently facing the UK engineering and manufacturing sector.

Linus at the 2022 awards
Linus at the 2022 awards

Discussing the nominations with our apprentices.

We sat down with last year’s nominee, Linus Gallagher, and this year’s nominees, Callum and Cameron to discuss their thoughts on apprenticeships and being nominated as apprentice of the year.

Cameron is one of our first year apprentices, and he has spent time in inspection, CNC turning, wiring and is currently in the finishing department. He was attracted to the sector as he is keen on solving problems and how things work.

Callum is a third year apprentice, he has spent his last two years in CNC turning, like Cameron he enjoys the problem solving aspect of precision engineering as well as the making aspect, which he finds both challenging and equally rewarding.

Linus Gallagher was nominated last year for apprentice of the year and he is heading into the fifth and final year of his apprenticeship and he currently works in the quality part of the business. He was initially attracted to this sector as it is primarily math-based but is enjoying his time in the quality standards aspect of the business.

Talking about last year’s nomination, Linus comments that: “Firstly being nominated was a great opportunity for me to meet other apprentices and see how they are getting on, so from a networking point of view it was a real eye-opener for me. It also gave me a good insight as to where I am at skills wise and if you like to gauge the competition in the industry so I know what I need to work on to ensure I’m at the forefront with my skills and knowledge base.”

For Calum, being nominated this year was a real eye-opener: “You really get a new perspective on what is going on with apprenticeships, as you are kind of in a bubble. You get to see what other people have done across the few years that you have been in your apprenticeship and it gives you a real sense of what you need to work on as ultimately we are all driven to be the best we can be and these apprenticeships are our launch pad to career success.”

The change in how apprenticeships are pushed

Linus, Callum and Cameron, three award-worthy apprentices.

As our longest service apprentice, Linus highlighted that when he was looking for his career path, apprenticeships were not pushed that much. But fast forward several years and Cameron, one of our new apprentices, highlights how that has very much changed, with apprenticeships seen for a lot of young people as a viable way to a rewarding career that doesn’t involve the huge amount of debt that the university route gives.

He said: “Apprenticeships are definitely more advertised now and colleges do more work to explain the benefits of both routes and how each can be beneficial to your life and career. Now that you can do different levels of apprenticeships that equate to a university degree it really is an enticing option. It then comes down to you as an individual, in my case it very much felt that this was the route for me. Especially when you consider that I gain valuable on the job experience as I learn and earn and have the worry of the debt when I finish and going forward I can still combine learning with working if I want to.”

To close, we’d like to congratulate all our apprentices on the great work they are doing. Win or not, they are all winners in our eyes and are a huge credit to the apprenticeship scheme and their respected schools, colleges themselves and their families.

We’d also like to take this opportunity to thank URC Leeds for their initial support in helping to select our apprentices and also the ongoing support from Leeds City College, especially Mitch Scott and Cristian Blyth, who show unwavering commitment to the development and success of a wide range of young people.