Silicon Valley CEO celebrates engineering talent of tomorrow at AMRC Training Centre Awards

19 February 2019

A retired Silicon Valley CEO whose life was changed by an apprenticeship has thrown his full support behind the 2019 AMRC Training Centre’s Apprentice of the Year Awards ceremony - putting his name to two new achievement awards.

Nominations are made by employers and trainers who want to recognise the achievement, innovation, fresh thinking or other contributions to industry shown by our apprentices, and are judged by a panel of AMRC Training Centre staff and award sponsors.

This year, two new awards will be handed out to worthy winners thanks to the generous support of Sheffield-born Dr Graham Siddall.  Graham, who lives in the United States, has been following the training centre’s progress from across the pond since it opened in 2014 and was keen to lend his hand to support this year’s ceremony on March 1.

Graham is a huge advocate of apprenticeships having undertaken one himself as a young student at the age of 18. This was a life-changing decision for him as it laid the groundwork for a long-term career in precision engineering and semiconductor technology. 

Dr Siddall as a student apprentice in 1964.

However, what makes his involvement in the awards even more significant is that he was born in Attercliffe and, as a young boy, played in the spoil heaps around what was once the Orgreave coking plant, the site on which the training centre is built and hopes to expand.

“The awards evening is a great way to recognise and celebrate the hard work and achievements of apprentices” said Graham. “I am looking forward to travelling from Seattle to Sheffield to attend the ceremony at Firth Hall.

“Without the skill set that my apprenticeship gave me, I doubt that I could have had a more interesting and rewarding career.  I was fortunate to be able to take advantage of the opportunities that were presented to me but I think it's much harder for young people today.

“That’s why it is good to see the University of Sheffield participating in the training and education of apprentices through the AMRC as a complementary path to the more traditional degree courses.  The fact that 750 potential candidates applied for 250 places last year at AMRC shows the demand is there from both young people and employers.”

“To compete in today's highly competitive international economy we need the best possible skills at all levels and apprentice training is a key ingredient for success.”

Businesses from across the region are involved in making the awards happen, sponsoring a wide range of categories including Degree Graduate, Fabrication and Welding, First Year, HNC Achiever, Machining, Maintenance and Technical Support.

Leading engineering and technology services company Siemens is the headline sponsor for the event and will present the 2019 Apprentice of the Year winner with a special trip to their award-winning Industry 4.0 smart factory in Amberg. Siemens is a partner of the University of Sheffield, working together on diverse projects and channelling innovative research into pioneering solutions for today’s global challenges.

Other award sponsors include Sandvik Coromant, Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence, MTA, Close Brothers, Hallam FM, SIV and the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC).

Nikki Jones, Director of the AMRC Training Centre.

Nikki Jones, Director of the AMRC Training Centre, said the awards are a fantastic opportunity to shine a light on the achievements of apprentices and the crucial role they play in helping businesses thrive and grow, ensuring the UK has a vibrant future economy.

She said: “We’re looking forward to showcasing how our apprenticeships make a real difference to industry and celebrating the hard work and determination our talented apprentices have shown in wanting to become the much-needed and skilled advanced engineers of tomorrow.

“The standard of entries this year is excellent and the judging panel no doubt had some difficult decisions to make as all the nominees have shown tremendous levels of passion and commitment that make them a credit to their companies.

“The Apprentice of the Year 2019 awards promises be a great evening - one the university, Sheffield and the wider City Region can be proud of - and we’re very much looking forward to toasting the success of all the finalists.”

Ben Siddall, the 2018 winner of the overall AMRC Training Centre Apprentice of the Year Award.

Last year’s Apprentice of the Year winner was Ben Siddall from Barnsley, a production and perforation department manager at C&S Fabrications in Sheffield specialising in fabricated and perforated sheet metal.

The judges were struck by the positive effect Ben made within his workplace through incentives he implemented and were impressed with his passion and infectious enthusiasm for engineering.

Ben, whose prize for winning was a VIP tour of Boeing’s production facilities at Everett, Renton and Portland in the USA, said: “Winning Apprentice of the Year was a valuable opportunity to show the manufacturing community the real difference apprentices are making to industry in the region and inspire more young people to show what’s possible with an apprenticeship.”

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