Following their recent successes at the Leeds Manufacturing Festival Awards, the winners of each of the four trophies presented at the packed ceremony in April have spoken about the importance of the awards as an inspiration to younger manufacturing employees and potential new recruits to the sector.
The winners of the three individual trophies: Rising Star, Future Manufacturing Leader and Apprentice of the Year, spoke of their hopes that the awards would help to encourage a new generation of young people to explore careers in the manufacturing industry.
Maddy Pennock, who is in the fourth and final year of a design engineering apprenticeship at engineering firm LBBC Technologies, was the winner of the Rising Star award, sponsored by Leeds City Council.
“Manufacturing is a really fulfilling industry to work in and I’ve loved the creativity that has been central to my engineering design role at LBBC.” said Maddy.
“I’m surrounded by a great team of people who all share the same drive for quality and perfection and have been hugely supportive to me during my apprenticeship.”
Maddy, who plans to take her career to the next level by studying for a degree, with the support of her employer, said: “More young people need to know about manufacturing while they are still at school or college so that they can find out about the great jobs available. The more links that can be forged between manufacturing employers and schools the better.”
The Future Manufacturing Leader award, sponsored by E3 Recruitment, was won by apprentice manufacturing engineer Kalum Downey. His employer Kirkstall Precision Engineering provides precision engineering solutions across a wide range of industry sectors.
Commenting on the award, Kalum said: “I hope being selected to win this award will encourage current and future apprentices at Kirkstall Precision to believe they are more than capable of achieving the same. I’ve been with the business for almost four years, and across those years, I’ve been supported brilliantly.
“I’m a proud member of the team and I’m excited to see what else I can learn from everyone in the years to come.”
Winner of the Apprentice of the Year Award, sponsored by Leeds City College, Harry Clark was described as a strong performer at MPM, the glass reinforced plastic moulds manufacturer where he is a member of the quality and finishing team. Harry often acts as an ambassador for his employer at events as well as leading workplace tours for students and other visitors.
“Winning this award has highlighted the importance of going the extra mile at work, with activities such as supporting careers events at schools, colleges and at the factory,” he said. “These don’t always seem central to the job but they really help raise awareness of the business - and of manufacturing - as a brilliant place to work.”
“I’ve always been told that hard work pays off and until now I’ve sometimes doubted that – so I am thrilled that my efforts throughout my apprenticeship have been celebrated both by the MPM team and my manufacturing peers locally in Leeds.”
Textile manufacturer AW Hainsworth was named winner of the Employer of the Year award, sponsored by Next Gen Makers. The family-owned business has produced cloth in Leeds for 240 years and managing director Amanda McLaren said winning the trophy had given the whole team a huge sense of pride.
“Given our commitment to our sustainability strategy, we are naturally eager to invest in our people – whether this be further training and development, or an apprenticeship or traineeship programme, which will ensure we bring out the best, in the talented people that work in our mill,” she said.
“Specialist training is also close to our hearts and to have achieved over 10% of our workforce becoming mental health first aid trained is a commitment across the business, providing reassurance, support and signposting, for those colleagues who need it the most."
Leeds Manufacturing Festival interim chair Ben Wilson said:
“The exceptional young people who were our winners and nominees in this year’s awards are an inspiration. Their success showcases the enormous potential for careers in manufacturing and the transformative power of passion, hard work, and apprenticeship opportunities.”