JCB Transmissions apprentice Paul Howard has been hailed as one of the most promising young engineers in Wales after being crowned regional champion of a competition which tested his full range of skills and knowledge.
Paul, 22, who only started working at the Wrexham-based JCB factory 15 months ago, was awarded first place in the north and mid-Wales final of the Engineering Employers Federation (EEF) 1st Year Modern Apprenticeship Competition 2008 for Engineering and Engineering Manufacture.
He was judged on all aspects of his work, including health and safety, worksheets, designs and technical drawings, engineering models and shop floor skills. He was then interviewed by a panel of judges before being named winner from among 40 talented entrants nominated by their employers and course tutors.
Following his success, Paul has now been entered for the EEF 1st Year Modern Apprentice Overall Winner for Wales accolade and will find out if he has been successful at the national final which will be held on February 19 at the Metropole Hotel in Llandrindod Wells, Powys.
Paul said: “It is fantastic to be recognised in this way. It is great for me personally and great for JCB too. When I was nominated for this I knew I would be up against some stiff competition but I knew the range of skills I have learned would stand me in good stead.”
“At the final I will be making another presentation to the judges and showing them the full range of my work portfolio. I am really looking forward to the ceremony and will give it my best shot to be in contention for the national award.”
JCB Transmissions Engineering Manager Tim Boothroyd said: “This is a superb achievement for Paul, and JCB can be very proud. It shows we are employing young people and training them to the very highest standards and allowing them to demonstrate their capabilities to full potential. It also highlights to young people that despite the current economic climate there is a real future in engineering.”
The prestigious competition, which was established 58 years ago, is organised by the EEF – the manufacturers’ organisation that represents almost 6,000 companies throughout the UK.
In choosing Paul as regional winner, the judges said he is a “quietly confident and articulate young man” who “impressed with his in-depth knowledge of manufacturing processes.” They added: “Paul’s references reflected the judge’s opinion that he stood out as a very conscientious and promising engineer.”
Paul, who lives in Shrewsbury, works at JCB Transmissions four days a week and he also has a one-day release at Glyndwr University in Wrexham to study for a HNC in Mechanical Engineering. His lecturer and mentor Paul Green picked Paul from among the 24 apprentices on the course to be put forward for the competition after being impressed by his all-round ability.
He said: “I had to nominate one person on the course to be put forward for the EEF Modern Apprentice competition. After speaking to all staff it was clear that Paul was outstanding in all areas of the engineering course including fitting, milling, trimming, and underpinning. He also had a great attitude towards his work
“We are thrilled that he has gone on to win. It is an extremely tough competition to enter and he has really shown what he can achieve. We really hope he goes on to make it a double and scoop the national final as well.”