Semta skills spectacle

Posted on 14 Feb 2014 by The Manufacturer

Female talent from MBDA dominated at the first Semta Skills Awards this week.

Jade Aspinall of MBDA clasps her Apprentice of the Year Award

Semta, the manufacturing sector skills council, held its first national awards ceremony at a glamorous gala dinner in London.

Several hundred guests graced the ceremony with big names like Nigel Whitehead, MD and BAE Systems; Juergen Maier, MD Siemens UK Industry; Iain Gray CBE, CEO of the Technology Strategy Board and many more gracing the event with their presence.

Business Secretary Vince Cable officially opened the event running through a long list of initiatives that government now supports to encourage young talent to enter the manufacturing industry and create training scheme which develop appropriate skills.

Dr Cable emphasized that additional focus should now be turned to the task of encouraging more women to take up industrial careers stating that it was “embarrassing” that the UK had one of the lowest proportions of female engineers of any country in Europe.

His words were somewhat prescient given that the firsts Semta Skills Awards were eventually defined by the confident triumph of female talent from missile manufacturer MBDA systems.

Young women from MBDA won both the Apprentice of the Year and High Apprentice of the Year categories.

The former prize went to Jade Aspinall, who among other achievements, helped to design a new module for the company’s national engineering apprentice scheme.

Daniella Di Stazio was crowned Higher Apprentice of the Year thanks to her remarkable contributions to a supply chain transformation project at MBDA.

“I am working in a supply chain transformation team which aims to achieve our MD’s vision to be the industrial leader in the supply chain,” she said. “This role is not something that is normally offered to apprentices – it is part of a senior team I am working with – and I am really proud my manager selected me to fulfil this role.”

Other award categories at the Semta Skills awards recognised the commitments and innovations of employers, large and small, to protecting the long term competitiveness of British Industry by investing in skills.

Berthen Boats form Lymington, Hampshire won the prize for the most impressive SME investment in skills thanks to its willingness to support training for the greater good of industry. The company sponsors apprentice schemes at other local companies as well as for itself.

In addition to revealing its main award winners Semta also used its first awards ceremony to invest the first modern day engineer into its Hall of Fame, a device designed to highlight current engineering prowess and change perceptions that the days of grandeur and leadership for British industry lie in the past.

After months of campaigning and gathering votes Semta finally announced that 24-year-old Sam Etherington from Cumbria had been selected to sit among other historical greats like Sir Frank Whittle and Isambard Kingdom Brunel in the Semta Hall of Fame.

The young man is responsible for pioneering a revolutionary wave power generation system.

Another announcement at the Semta Skills Awards was the launch a new youth inspiration initiative called the Mystery Machine.

“We don’t want to own this idea,” said Semta chairman Allan Cook CBE. “We want to share it with industry.”

The online ideas generator is targeted at 13-18 year olds and challenges to help build a ‘mystery machine’ with 3,278 components and no assembly instructions.

“We want to create a community of enthusiasm,” Mr Cook enthused after an impressive video pumped up audience excitement about the new scheme.

A full list of Semta Award Winners is available here.