JCB Design Engineer Holly Broadhurst is celebrating after being crowned the UK’s top Higher and Degree Apprentice. The 22-year-old from Leek, Staffordshire, beat off competition from hundreds of other contenders to land the accolade at the National Apprenticeships Awards in London.
Holly joined JCB as a Higher Apprentice aged 16 after studying at the JCB Academy in Rocester, Staffordshire. She went on to take a two year foundation degree before stuyding for two more years for a BEng degree in Mechanical Engineering. She graduated last year and now works at JCB Compact Products in Cheadle, Staffs, where she is part of the team designing JCB’s award winning mini excavator range.
Holly was among the first intake at the JCB Academy in September 2010 – a £22 million state school for 14-18 year old students aspiring to become the engineers of the future. The project was spearheaded by JCB Chairman Lord Bamford and since it opened almost 1,500 students have been educated there.
Holly said: “I’ve learnt and gained so much more than I ever thought possible through my apprenticeship at JCB. I look at my friends who went to university and they are only just getting the workplace experience now. I would advise anyone considering an apprenticeship to go for it 110% – it may seem nerve wracking to go straight into a job but it is so worth it in the long run.”
JCB Chairman Lord Bamford – who started his career as an engineering apprentice in 1962 – today congratulated Holly on her Award. Lord Bamford has been the driving force behind JCB’s investment in apprentices at JCB and over the past five years around 250 have joined the company under its ‘Young Talent’ programme – with more than 100 set to be recruited in 2017.
He said: “I’m delighted that Holly has been recognised at a national level. Engineering was in my blood from a very early age and nothing pleases me more than seeing other engineers being rewarded at a very young age for their passion and hard work.”
JCB was one of the first engineering employers in the UK to offer Higher apprenticeships in engineering to provide a pathway to study up to degree level while working. Since their introduction in 2012 around 60 JCB apprentices have gone on to take foundation degrees. Like Holly, many have already completed their full degrees and scores of others are expected to graduate with Bachelor of Engineering degrees in the next two years.
JCB General Manager for Technical & Professional Development Miles Pixley said: “Holly is a wonderful advocate for the Higher Apprenticeship route, which offers young people the opportunity of real paid work while they learn on the job, avoiding the need to take out student loans which have to be paid back in later life.”
Holly was named the Nuclear Decommissioning Site Licence Companies Higher and Degree Apprentice of the Year during a ceremony at London’s Grosvenor House.