AMRC apprentice makes national award finals

2 min read

A self-confessed teenage tearaway who turned her life around with an engineering apprenticeship has made the finals of the National Apprenticeship Awards. Ambition, aspiration and confidence were not words that featured heavily in 20-year-old Rebecca Wright’s vocabulary. However, it is those precise qualities that have seen her sail through the rigorous judging process to be crowned a regional winner and national finalist.

At the Yorkshire and Humber regional ceremony in Leeds, Wright was named winner in the ‘Advanced Apprentice of the Year’ category, which recognises exceptional contribution to a workplace. She will now compete for the national award in November.

Wright, from Sheffield, who is in the second year of a technical support apprenticeship at the AMRC Training Centre, is employed by the University of Sheffield AMRC’s Integrated Manufacturing Group (IMG), based at Factory 2050. She was sunbathing on a beach in the Caribbean and enjoying a cocktail when she found out about her nomination.

“I couldn’t quite believe it,” says Rebecca, who during her school years was told she would ‘never get anywhere’ looking like she does with her colourful hair and piercings.

Her main focus areas at IMG include CAD, business improvement and workshop maintenance. Wright also manages the 3D printer to ensure everything operates efficiently, which prolongs the life of the machine.

Her work to improve the efficiency of the Factory 2050 workshop has already yielded results.

“I was tasked with improving workshop productivity by implementing 5S lean manufacturing, which has reduced the average cleaning time by 13 minutes each week, which in turn has increased working time,” she says. “The apprenticeship has changed my life so much. It has given me ambition and aspiration, and made me realise there’s a lot of opportunities here. I would really like to progress and do a degree.”

James Lindsay, IMG project engineer, says: “We’re all incredibly proud of Rebecca and what she’s achieved. She has the right attitude, passion and commitment we value. Rebecca has completed a wide variety projects since she started at the AMRC, covering mechanical interface designs, control cabinet builds and machine vision programming. Her have-a-go attitude has allowed her to confidently perform tasks she thought were beyond her capabilities.

“A diverse skill set is exactly what’s required from any engineer within IMG and Rebecca is proving she has a hunger for further development,” adds Lindsay. “She’s not just an apprentice to us, she’s an integral part of IMG and the wider team, particularly through her work with ‘Women in Engineering’ and being a first-class ambassador for the AMRC. She deserves every ounce of recognition she receives.”

Rebecca is not the only AMRC Training Centre apprentice to reach the regional finals – Oliver Marsh, a process technician who is among the first to complete a higher apprenticeship scheme at the training centre, has also made it to the national finals.

Keith Smith, director – apprenticeships, at the Education and Skills Funding Agency, says the awards celebrate all that is exceptional about apprenticeships: “The regional stages of the competition are an exciting time for employers, apprentices, individuals and stakeholders, who all recognise the importance of skills to help our economy thrive and grow locally, regionally and nationally. Congratulations to everyone involved in the regional ceremonies – the winners, those that were highly commended, the sponsors and the hosts.”

The national ceremony will be held on 19 November.