A former JCB Academy student is today championing apprenticeships after being crowned the best in the country at last night’s National Apprenticeship Awards.
Holly Broadhurst was last night named the Nuclear Decommissioning Site Licence Companies Higher and Degree Apprentice of the Year. She picked up her gong during a glittering ceremony at London’s Grosvenor House. The 22-year-old won the award ahead of hundreds of competing apprentices from all around England.
She is now a full-time design engineer for JCB, designing compact 360 tracked excavators for a living after recently completing a higher apprenticeship with the Rocester-based firm.
After accepting her award, she outlined how important it was to have had a strong female role model while she studied at JCB Academy, which is also in Rocester.
Miss Broadhurst, who works at JCB Compact Products, in Cheadle, said: “I’ve learned and gained so much more than I ever thought possible through my apprenticeship with JCB. I had a female lecturer during my time spent in the JCB Academy and, as a woman within engineering, she was a great role model to encourage me into the industry.
“When I first started my apprenticeship I knew I wanted to work in engineering but my apprenticeship enabled me to maximise my experience by rotating around different parts of the business. This gave me a good insight into how the company is run and helped me to realise the area best suited to my skills.
“I look at my friends who went to university and they are only just getting the workplace experience now. I would advise anyone considering an apprenticeship to go for it 110 per cent. It may seem nerve-wracking to go straight into a job but it is so worth it in the long run.”
The National Apprenticeship Awards are now in their 13th year. Run by the National Apprenticeship Service, they recognise excellence in two areas – businesses that ‘grow their own talent’ with apprentices and apprentices who have ‘made a significant contribution to their workplaces’.
Speaking at the ceremony, the Government’s apprenticeships and skills minister, Robert Halfon, reserved special praise for Miss Broadhurst, who hails from Leek, in the Staffordshire Moorlands
He said: “Congratulations to Holly for your success in this year’s National Apprenticeship Awards, which have showcased so much inspiring talent, dedication and ensures that apprenticeships get the prestige they deserve.
“I am always proud to see how many employers and apprentices get involved in apprenticeships across the country, helping to give a ladder of opportunity to people and deliver quality skills for employers. I hope your involvement encourages others to do the same to ensure social justice for all.”
The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, which has backed the awards, is a government organisation tasked with the safe clean-up of the UK’s former civil nuclear sites.
Beccy Pleasant, head of skills and talent at the authority, said: “I am so pleased for Holly Broadhurst in winning the Nuclear Site Licence Companies higher or degree-level apprenticeship award at this year’s National Apprenticeship Awards.
“Higher and degree-level apprenticeships are proving to be a successful method of recruiting people into our businesses. Apprentices are equipped for the world of work and can make a more immediate impact on our businesses. And the individuals are able to start financially planning for their future, rather than repaying student debts of the past.”
The night’s events were hosted by Sue Husband, the director of the National Apprenticeship Service, who paid tribute to all those who had been nominated.
She said:“The National Apprenticeship Awards have highlighted once again the magnificent range of apprenticeships on offer – with leading employers in exciting industries – and the skills that apprentices gain when taking on these roles.
“Every year this event gets bigger and better, bringing to the forefront of our minds the importance of apprenticeships to local, regional and national economies.
“Apprenticeships are for everyone and I personally thank each and every employer and apprentice recognised at Friday’s event for their commitment to apprenticeships.”