AN APPRENTICE from Halesowen has claimed one of the main prizes at the In-Comm Training Awards held recently.

Ames Group’s Jack Shakespeare beat off the challenge of 50 nominees to be named as ‘Learner of the Year – Business Support’.

He impressed judges with his commitment to supporting his colleagues and implementing a number of improvement projects across the business.

Bekki Phillips, joint Managing Director at In-Comm Training, said: “There has been a lot of media debate about the effectiveness of the ‘Apprenticeship Levy’, but one thing that is not in question is the important role we all play in developing the engineers of the future.

“Apprenticeships offer a fantastic way for companies to develop their own staff and for young people to become competent craft and technical engineers by being exposed to all levels of education and a host of practical scenarios.

“If they go all the way to Degree level through this route, they’ll also save £100,000 on average when compared to people going to University.

“The In-Comm Training Awards are designed to showcase the best vocational learners in the Midlands, highlighting individuals who have gone above and beyond, mentors that have given blood, sweat and tears in developing their younger members of staff and employers who have put their money where their mouths are.”

She added: “I’m delighted that Jack won one of the prizes. He is a fantastic engineering ambassador and will go on to have a great career in industry.”

The focus was also on companies, with Birmingham-based precision metal stamping specialist Brandauer taking the ‘Employer of the Year’ title for the way it has made apprenticeships more than 15 per cent of its total workforce, helping it to retain specialist skills and reduce the average age of staff to just 44 in the process.

Headline sponsor for the event was the Engineering Technology Group (ETG), one of the UK’s leading machine tools suppliers. Chloe Reeve, Technical Co-ordinator and former apprentice, was one of the judges for this year’s competition.

She said: “The quality of the entries was fantastic, with lots of stories of young people saving their companies money and solving production bottlenecks – even mentoring their peers who might be struggling on certain topics.

“The winners and the nominees are excellent ambassadors for recruiting the next apprentices and the engineers of the future.”

Over 350 people attended the In-Comm Training Awards, held for the first time at the ICC in Birmingham.

Guests were given an insight into life behind the scenes of Robot Wars by Grant and James Cooper, before being entertained by Black Country royalty in the shape of Doreen Tipton.

Sponsors for the evening included Black Country Chamber of Commerce, B Mason & Sons, Classic Motor Cars, Grainger & Worrall, In-Comm Training and Manufacturing Group, Jonathan Lee Recruitment, Made in the Midlands, My Workwear, Salop Design & Engineering and the University of Wolverhampton.