Apprentice Sam to be face of Global Manufacturing Festival

Posted on 9 Feb 2012 by Tim Brown

A local apprentice is being featured in the publicity for the Global Manufacturing Festival being held in Sheffield next month.

Sam Biddleston of Sprotbrough, who is training at the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) off Sheffield Parkway, will be the face of the Festival this year.

“Since starting my apprenticeship last year, I’ve found the work very interesting and have learned valuable skills for my later career,” said 17-year-old Sam. “Thanks to the good relations between all the partner companies, the AMRC is giving me opportunities that I wouldn’t have at other places.”

The AMRC was established in 2001 as a £15 million collaboration between the University of Sheffield and aerospace giant Boeing, with support from Yorkshire Forward and the European Regional Development Fund.

Up to six apprentices are taken on at the AMRC each year. Their apprenticeship programme has been running for five years and so far 11 have completed the programme. One is working in industry and the other 10 are working as technicians and engineers within the AMRC with Boeing and Nuclear AMRC.

Apprentices spend two days a week at college (mostly Sheffield College, though Sam and others are at Doncaster College), and the rest of the week at the AMRC. Most of their work is on mechanical engineering, starting on the traditional manually-controlled machine tools, before graduating onto small computer-controlled centres and, eventually, the large state-of-the-art machines used in the AMRC’s core research. Sam is training in machining, but is focusing on welding, working with the new welding research team at the Nuclear AMRC.

Sheffield City Council’s Cabinet member for Business, Jobs and Growth, Councillor Helen Mirfin-Boukouris met Sam on a recent visit to the AMRC ahead of this week’s National Apprenticeship Week.
Councillor Mirfin-Boukouris said: “This is a wonderful opportunity for local apprentices to gain valuable experience in a world-class research facility. The apprentices will be involved in the ‘cutting-edge’ technology that is developed in the AMRC and I am sure they will benefit from working in such a vibrant Centre.”

From next autumn, the AMRC will be taking 200 apprentices a year into the new Advanced Manufacturing Institute Training Centre – based in purpose-built facilities alongside the current AMRC campus. The Training Centre will provide high-level engineering apprentice training for manufacturing companies of all sizes across the Sheffield city region. More details on this may be found at

Professor Keith Ridgway CBE, executive dean of the Advanced Manufacturing Institute – “Our apprentices play a key role in the AMRC, working alongside our researchers and industrial partners and gaining experience at the cutting edge of manufacturing technology. Sam and our other apprentices are laying solid foundations for their careers, whether they go on to work in industry when they are qualified or continue into higher study and research.

“Our new Training Centre, opening next year, will work with local businesses to give 200 young people a year the same opportunity to build a great career in high value manufacturing.”