Christopher-Eckert---Apprentice-of-YearCheshire engineer wins Enginuity Skills Awards 2016

Electrical engineer Christopher Eckert has been named the UK’s top apprentice at the Enginuity Skills Awards.

The 23-year-old, EAL Learner from Warrington, beat off strong competition to be presented with his award, sponsored by Atkins, last night at a gala dinner in London’s Hilton Hotel on Park Lane hosted by BBC journalist, presenter and engineering advocate, Steph McGovern.


Christopher, who works for an SME company Packaging Automation Ltd in Knutsford, Cheshire said: “I am very shocked – to be up against apprentices from enormous companies like Mars and Toyota. I really didn’t expect to win.

“My message to other young people is don’t be deterred. My dad Kenneth didn’t really want me to become an apprentice because he felt university was the best option. If you are willing to commit and work hard you can get where you want to be.”

Nick Woodward, Assembly Team Leader at Packaging Automation Ltd said: “I have been in engineering for 20 years and I have never seen someone as gifted as Chris. He is very level headed, mature and a fully rounded engineer.

“Chris started four years ago as an apprentice and it became apparent straight away, his thirst for knowledge, his love of engineering – he just grasped any job I gave him.

“Consequently, as a third year apprentice he was given one of the most complex and sophisticated machines in our product range – the Revolution – and he started building them which is unheard of for an apprentice.”

He also mentors other apprentices and conducts factory tours with local schoolchildren, explaining how apprenticeships work.  Chris is a member of the company’s continuous improvement team and was involved in a project which helped save £100,000 for Packaging Automation Ltd.

While working, Chris has completed his EAL-accredited HNC in Electrical/Electronic Engineering with distinction at Stockport College, enabling him to win a place to study his BEng Honours degree at Manchester Metropolitan University.

Ann Watson, CEO of Enginuity , the not-for-profit organisation tasked with skilling engineering and manufacturing in the UK said: “Chris is a truly inspirational young man who left school with A levels, chose the apprenticeship route rather than university and is now doing a degree. It is also great to see the winner coming from an SME, giving all small-medium enterprises the recognition they deserve.

“This is a route we want to see more young people take – earning while learning then often studying a degree to ensure the skills talent pipeline continues to flow for the benefit of UK engineering and manufacturing – and having more SME’s invest in apprenticeships.

“Chris is a fantastic role model and a fully deserving winner of the Enginuity Skills Award as Apprentice of the Year.”

Christopher Eckert - Apprentice of the Year, Enginuity Skills Awards 2016

Hundreds of nominations from across the UK for the nine categories were shortlisted to leave 27 finalists battling it out in the prestigious Enginuity Skills Awards.

The awards were judged by an expert industry led judging panel.


Details of all the winners are below and you can also see videos of them talking about their awards.

Apprentice of the Year – sponsored by Atkins

WINNER – Christopher Eckert of Packaging Automation Ltd, Knutsford, Cheshire

HIGHLY COMMENDED – Marc Cotton of Mars Chocolate, Reading

HIGHLY COMMENDED - Robyn Clark and Andy Smith of Toyota Motor Manufacturing (UK) Ltd, Derbyshire

Higher Apprentice of the Year - sponsored by Rolls-Royce plc

WINNER - Joanne Sharples of BAE Systems plc, Preston

HIGHLY COMMENDED - Adam Davies of Airbus Operations Ltd, Broughton, Chester

HIGHLY COMMENDED - Anna Schlautmann of MBDA UK Ltd, Bolton

Graduate of the Year - sponsored by Marshall

WINNER - Emma England of Airbus Operations Ltd, Filton, Gloucestershire

HIGHLY COMMENDED - Alexander Godfrey of Lockheed Martin UK, Ampthill, Bedfordshire

HIGHLY COMMENDED - Akshay Ogale of Rolls-Royce plc, Derby

Skills Champion of the Year - sponsored by BAE Systems plc

WINNER - Martin Rigley MBE of Lindhurst Engineering, Nottingham

HIGHLY COMMENDED - Jason Andrews of Martin Manufacturing Ltd, Louth, Lincolnshire

HIGHLY COMMENDED - Jenny Conlon of KMF, Newcastle-under-Lyme

Skills Innovation of the Year - sponsored by Siemens

WINNER - KMF, Newcastle-under-Lyme HIGHLY COMMENDED - Rolls-Royce plc, Derbyshire

HIGHLY COMMENDED - Toyota Motor Manufacturing (UK) Ltd, Derby

Training Partner of the Year - sponsored by Get MyFirstJob

WINNER - Babcock International, Portsmouth

HIGHLY COMMENDED - Glasgow Clyde College, Glasgow


Award for SME Investment in Skills - sponsored by Jaguar Land Rover

WINNER – Canal Engineering, Nottingham

HIGHLY COMMENDED - Automotive Insulations, Rugby

HIGHLY COMMENDED - Pentaxia Ltd, Derby

Technician of the Year - sponsored by EngTechNow

WINNER – Steve Green of Lockheed Martin UK, Ampthill, Bedfordshire

HIGHLY COMMENDED - Jade Aspinall of MBDA UK Ltd, Bolton

HIGHLY COMMENDED - Charlotte Hannaby-Farmer of MBDA UK Ltd, Bolton

Enginuity & WISE Diversity in Engineering award – supported by MBDA

WINNER - Dawn Bonfield of Women’s Engineering Society, Stevenage

HIGHLY COMMENDED - Inspire Young People, Chalfont St Giles, Buckinghamshire

HIGHLY COMMENDED - Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group, Cambridge

Best of British Engineering

WINNER - Emma England of Airbus Operations Ltd, Filton, Gloucestershire

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