James Ashly, an engineering apprentice from the Forest of Dean, has won an industry ‘Oscar’ – walking away with the SME Apprentice of the Year at the national Enginuity Skills Awards.
The Apprentice of the Year Award, sponsored by BAE Systems, recognises a staff member from an organisation of up to 250 people that has overcome challenges or barriers to complete an engineering qualification.
Ashly, a maintenance technician at Gloucestershire Engineering Training in Gloucester, impressed judges with the bravery he showed to continue his studies as he fought to recover from a serious motorcycle crash.
‘I didn’t think I’d win an award this big, especially nationally, so it’s amazing,’ said Ashly, a former pupil at Dene Magna School in Mitcheldean, and a qualified Level 4 Cave and Mine Rescue First Aid Responder.
‘We are a small company based in Gloucester, but we are doing great things and expanding. This is just the icing on the cake.’
Warren Thomas, chief executive officer at GET, said: ‘We are honoured as a business to employ James and to receive such a high accolade.’
In September 2022 GET, which helps train staff from engineering firms of all sizes Gloucestershire-wide, will welcome a further 100 apprentices, followed by up to 12 more in January 2023 and it is currently recruiting its own maintenance technician apprentice.
Ashly urged anyone considering an apprenticeship to ‘go for it’ without reservation.
‘I can’t see any drawbacks at all. You get to earn and learn; you make your money; you’re gaining new skills; constantly getting qualifications and you’re pretty much guaranteed a secure job at the end of it,’ he said.
‘So, I’d say if you’re thinking about it, just do it. Even if you don’t enjoy it at the end you’ll still have some awesome qualifications to fall back on.’