Black Country leads the way at the In-Comm Training Awards
Apprentices and firms from the Black Country stole the show at this year’s In-Comm Training Awards after securing four out of the nine awards.
Adam Strong (Top Tubes) and Jade Higgins (FBC Manby Bowdler) beat off competition from across the West Midlands to secure the learner of the year - management and leadership and learner of the year – continuous improvement titles respectively.
The duo impressed judges with the way they have had a positive impact on the bottom line of their employers by introducing new processes that deliver a host of cost savings and performance improvements.
They were joined on stage by Liberty Pressings’ David Latham, who secured the apprentice ambassador of the year award for his working in promoting vocational learning.
The former GKN apprentice has personal experience of the benefits an apprenticeship provides and has made it his mission to create a similar culture at the Willenhall-based company, even opening up this route to five existing ‘mature’ workers.
Bekki Phillips, joint managing director at In-Comm Training, commented: “There has been a lot of negativity surrounding Apprenticeships this year, with the national media quick to put the proverbial boot into the Levy and how it is failing employers across the UK.
“Talk of the number of ‘starts’ being down and large businesses turning the back on vocational training have dominated the headlines, but that’s only part of the story and last week we had the opportunity to tell the other half.
“The annual In-Comm Training Awards provides a fantastic platform to even the playing field and inform people about the amazing things that are happening in the West Midlands and highlight the companies that deliver anything from outstanding professional services advice to those making components that help drive the latest aircraft, cars and medical innovations.”
She continued: “We recognised and celebrated the best of the region’s vocational talent… the stars of business and industry and, more than likely, the business leaders of the future that are helping their employers work smarter, launch new products and services and, importantly, increase sales.
“The Black Country has beaten off competition from the other areas to come out as the overall winners with four awards, a testament to the appetite of local companies to really back the apprenticeship route.”
Employer of the year was won by Wolverhampton’s Fablink UK, a specialist manufacturer of metal pressings, operator cab assemblies, fuel and hydraulic tanks and complex structures.
The firm, which also has facilities in Northampton and Darlington, currently employs 20 apprentices - making up five per cent of its permanent workforce.
Other winners at the In-Comm Awards 2019 included:
Learner of the year: business support: James Arnold (Brandauer)
Learner of the year AMTC (MCMT): Tyler Cadwallader (Bridgnorth Aluminium)
Learner of the year engineering and manufacturing technologies: Adam Burgoyne (Brandauer)
Outstanding apprentice of the year: Adam Burgoyne (Brandauer)
Most improved learner: Ryan Lenton-Kane (IMI Precision Engineering)
Headline sponsor for the event was the Engineering Technology Group (ETG), one of the UK’s leading machine tools suppliers. Chloe Reeve, technical co-ordinator and former apprentice, was one of the judges for this year’s competition.
“I’m very passionate about the importance of vocational learning and ensuring more young people see it as a credible alternative to going to University, giving them the same career progression and opportunity to study towards a degree.
“The quality of entries just keeps getting better and better and the winners, highly commended and nominees are exactly the type of ambassadors we need to put apprentices on the map through tales of boosting sales, introducing money-saving processes and, importantly, acting as role models for the next generation.”
She concluded: “It can be hard to find the right fit when you are first starting out in engineering. However, getting to know each department - as you would in an apprenticeship - provides that extra bit of information and experience. It also gives you a feel of real life and the potential for your future development.”
More than 300 people attended the In-Comm Training Awards, held for the second time at the ICC in Birmingham.
Guests were given an insight into the latest developments at In-Comm Training, before being entertained by West Midlands historian Professor Carl Chinn.
Sponsors for the evening included Black Country Chamber of Commerce, Elite Centre for Manufacturing Skills, FBC Manby Bowdler, In-Comm Training and Manufacturing Group, Made in the Midlands, MTD CNC, MyWorkwear, Rational FX and Wieland.