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Apprenticeship stars shine on

An advanced engineering and manufacturing apprentice from Telford has been named as the region’s brightest vocational star.

Torus Measurement Systems’ James Morgan overcame competition from more than 100 apprentices across the West Midlands to secure the Outstanding Learner of the Year title at this year’s annual In-Comm Training Awards.

More than 300 people at the ceremony heard how the 24-year-old is working his way towards a degree by impressing on the shopfloor, helping deliver critical projects and becoming a STEM ambassador that sees him go into schools to inspire the next generation.

The ceremony, which is backed by main sponsor the Engineering Technology Group (ETG), saw Shropshire’s training strength come to the fore. 

Joining James on stage was Hoshizaki Europe’s Lewis Laidler, who secured Most Improved Learner for the way he has overcome initial difficulties to become a highly-respected engineer and a great ambassador for this type of learning.

Two employers from the county were also recognised on the evening, with Billcar Precision Engineering winning the Small Employer Award for the way it uses staff to develop young learners, and Hoshizaki Europe taking the Large Employer accolade.

The latter has been a long-term supporter of vocational learning and has invested heavily in an apprentice scheme that spans all departments, including engineering, quality, manufacturing and business administration. It also runs a scheme where apprentices are rewarded for their ideas on how to improve their role or the business.

Bekki Phillips, chief operating officer at In-Comm Training, said: “We are finally seeing the perceptions of apprenticeships change since Covid-19, and events like these are crucial to achieving that level of equality.

“Vocational learning shouldn’t be seen as the pathway you take if you don’t get good grades, that’s nonsense. We now have clear pathways in place where a learner can go all the way to a degree in less time than going to university, with the added benefits of hundreds of hours of real-life experience and zero debt.

“Our finalists have demonstrated hard work, commitment, teamwork, innovation and, importantly, technical competences. They are already making a real difference to the companies they work for, and this is just the start.”

This was the eleventh year the In-Comm Training Awards have been held and gave nearly 50 finalists the opportunity to celebrate their achievements in front of their peers, mentors and employers.

Gareth Jones, managing director at In-Comm Training, said: “The Awards have grown massively from when they first started and we want to them to continue to get bigger, as it’s a fantastic way of spreading the message about vocational learning and everything it has to offer.

“The apprentices rightly get the majority of the plaudits, but we shouldn’t forget the huge contribution and impact employers have on shaping the professionals and engineers of the future.”