The best apprentices in Coventry have been rewarded for their efforts at a ceremony in St Mary’s Hall. Six apprentices were nominated for the City of Coventry Freeman’s Guild’s seventh annual awards event, held at St Mary’s Guildhall. Four of the entrants were from Jaguar Land Rover with the two remaining contenders working at Whitefriars Housing Group. Judy Ryder, a member of the judging panel since the awards started, said, 'The calibre of this year’s applicants was the highest we have seen since running the awards, and the decision for the panel was the toughest yet. The six finalists are truly inspirational and confirm your faith in the future of the city.'
More than 100 people attended a meal in the guildhall before the awards were presented by guild master Rajinder Singh Bansal and Lord Mayor of Coventry Coun Keiran Mulhall.
The six apprentices;
Stephen Mason, has spent more than three years with Jaguar Land Rover working in manufacturing and engineering. Bosses at the firm have described him as a credit to them – and Stephen is hoping to repay them by climbing up the career ladder as soon as possible.
He has already achieved his NVQ level 3 in technical support and a foundation degree in professional engineering and is now aiming to get sponsorship to start a degree.
His passion for cars started at an early age and he admitted that the reason he went to college was to turn his hobby into a job. In his time at JLR he has already redesigned the way the company records a vehicle’s history – saving them £5,000. He also spotted that staples on the document were scratching the paintwork on some vehicles, leading to extra savings.
Stephen said, 'It’s a lot of fun. There’s a fair amount of problem solving involved. And every day is different – when you come in in the morning there’s a good chance you will be doing something that you weren’t doing the day before.'
Danielle Holmes currently works with Jaguar Land Rover, after choosing an apprenticeship over university because she likes to get stuck in to things. It’s proved an excellent decision as Danielle has already completed a hatful of qualifications and is expected to complete her NVQ level three course six months early. Now her ambition is to become an engineer with JLR.
She’s visited schools to talk about the benefits of modern apprenticeships and is also in discussions about promoting women in engineering at social events.
Danielle said, 'I really enjoy it. It’s different, and I get to learn new things every day.'
Nozrul Hassan is at the cutting edge of life at Jaguar Land Rover, working in the department that makes prototypes for new vehicles. He said that 'he felt privileged to be an apprentice with JLR and that he was determined to justify the faith and resources put in him by the company.' Like his fellow entrants Nozrul is working towards several qualifications and is getting ready to start an engineering degree. 'It’s an interesting job,' he said. 'You get to do all sorts of different stuff. You get to see and work on vehicles months before they are revealed to the public.'
Ashley Wilson has already made a name for himself at Jaguar Land Rover by consistently exceeding targets set for him. He is in the second year of a foundation degree after earning top marks in a mechanical engineering course.
Mark Watts is in his third year with Whitefriars Housing where he works as an apprentice carpenter. He’s already been named as the group’s apprentice of the year despite having to work extra hard to cope with dyslexia. That conscientious attitude has meant that far from struggling the 20-year-old has actually recorded better test scores than some of his colleagues. With his new-found confidence he is attending City College to earn more GCSEs, with one lecturer describing him as his greatest success story. Mark said, 'It’s great – every day with Whitefriars I’m learning something completely new. Today I went out and worked with a different person and they taught me different ways of doing things. It’s a new experience every day.'
The youngest entrant, 18-year-old Alice Stutens, has been working as an apprentice with Whitefriars Housing for just over a year. Out of 43 carpenters in the repair and maintenance team she is the only woman. She’s already racking up qualifications and was selected to attend some training with unemployed students at a job centre. Alice, one of three sisters who are triplets, received an award from Whitefriars for making the most promising start to her apprenticeship programme. She said, 'It’s certainly not boring. I meet different people every day – it’s really good.'
The overall winner of the ceremony was JLR's Stephen Mason who walked away with a cheque for £1000. Mark Watts won the Endeavour Award, a trophy and cheque for £100 for this discretionary award given to a person who the judging panel believe has done exceptionally well despite battling significant obstacles.