Tomorrow’s engineers shine bright at Semta Skills Awards

The future of British manufacturing demonstrated their prowess at the Semta Skills Awards held at The Hilton Park Lane, London.

Chairman, Allan Cook CBE, told the 500-strong audience – which included captains of industry, government officials and young apprentices – that Semta celebrated diversity, with more women than ever before being nominated for an award.

Apprentice of the Year:

  • Christopher Eckert of Packaging Automation Ltd, Knutsford, Cheshire

Higher Apprentice of the Year:

  • Joanne Sharples of BAE Systems plc, Preston

Graduate of the Year:

  • Emma England of Airbus Operations Ltd, Filton, Gloucestershire

Skills Champion of the Year:

  • Martin Rigley MBE of Lindhurst Engineering, Nottingham

Skills Innovation of the Year:

  • KMF, Newcastle-under-Lyme

Training Partner of the Year:

  • Babcock International, Portsmouth

Award for SME Investment in Skills:

  • Canal Engineering, Nottingham

Technician of the Year:

  • Steve Green of Lockheed Martin UK, Ampthill, Bedfordshire

Semta & WISE Diversity in Engineering award:

  • Dawn Bonfield of Women’s Engineering Society, Stevenage

Cook noted: “This evening has more significance to the future of our nation than the BAFTA’s or the BRITS, the Golden Globes or the Academy Awards.

“You will, I am sure, have read about the controversy at the Academy Awards about issues of diversity and inclusion.

“In engineering and advanced manufacturing we have similar issues and it is restricting our ability to survive and grow. Today in engineering we have less than 8% women; 5% from ethnic minority groups and only 10% with disabilities.

“We have to open up our workforce to a more diverse and inclusive population.”

Twenty-six year old Emma England, a loads and aeroelastics engineer at aerospace and defence giant, Airbus Operations Ltd, beat off strong opposition to be crowned the very ‘Best of British’.

Having gained a degree in Aeronautical Engineering MEng at Bristol University and recently completing the Airbus graduate scheme, England said that she had a “real passion” to further engineering as a sector.

England continued: “I have a huge amount of drive and energy to develop Airbus as a business and myself and other people around me.

“I have also run lessons, workshops and careers fairs at local schools. I believe that engineering is an option for everyone regardless of background or circumstance.

“When I am at schools or talking to young people, I enjoy taking the time to explain the different roles and opportunities available in an engineering company like Airbus.”

Ann Watson, CEO of Semta – the employer-led organisation tasked with skilling Britain –sdf said: “Congratulations to Emma – she is a very worthy winner – and an icon for other young women to follow.

“Maybe there are glimmers of a new dawn of diversity on the horizon.  Semta will continue to work tirelessly to help make this happen.”