Leeds’ manufacturing and engineering sector has celebrated the achievements of some of its brightest younger stars at an awards ceremony recognising the talents, achievements and contributions of the next generation working within the industry.

Now in their second year, the Leeds Manufacturing Festival Awards saw trophies presented for Apprentice of the Year, Rising Star and Future Manufacturing Leader, as well as a new category of Employer of the Year. The initiative has gathered momentum since its launch in 2022, with double the number of employers nominating team members for awards this year and a packed awards ceremony, at Leeds glass reinforced plastic moulds manufacturer MPM.

Harry Clark won the Apprentice of the Year Award, sponsored by Leeds City College. Nominated by his employer, MPM, where he works in the quality and finishing department, he was singled out as being a particularly strong performer within the business. According to judges, Harry stands out as “a team player with a strong career ahead of him”.

Harry has represented MPM at events to promote careers in manufacturing, as well as leading workplace tours with visitors from students through to chief executives. “The ability to communicate and to work well with people from different backgrounds and in different roles is a strength that sets Harry apart and bodes well for his future,” said the judges.

Sponsored by Leeds City Council, the 2023 Rising Star Award went to Maddy Pennock, currently in the fourth and final year of a design engineering apprenticeship at Stanningley-based engineering firm, LBBC Technologies.

Described by managers as “innovative and enthusiastic”, Maddy stood out for her willingness to take on impressive levels of responsibility and work. “As well as developing an in-house work experience programme for local school students and recently qualifying as a workplace mental health first aider, Maddy has consistently shown a desire to stretch and challenge herself, taking ownership of her role, seizing opportunities and sharing her experience to inspire the next generation,” said LBBC Technologies design manager Jim Alexander.

Kirkstall Precision Engineering apprentice manufacturing engineer Kalum Downey scooped the Future Manufacturing Leader trophy, sponsored by engineering and manufacturing recruiter E3 Recruitment. Kalum was singled out for consistently delivering high-quality work and supporting his team members.

“Kalum's natural leadership skills shine through,” said the judges. “His ability to take charge and his clear and concise communication skills demonstrate his confidence and approachability, both critical qualities for any future leader. He is an invaluable asset to any team he is a part of and will undoubtedly continue to grow as a leader.”

Historic Leeds textiles business AW Hainsworth was named Employer of the Year, an award sponsored by Next Gen Makers, which runs a benchmarking and accreditation scheme for manufacturing and engineering apprenticeships.

The firm was selected for its “remarkable commitment to its employees and continual investment in developing its people strategies,” according to the judges, who were impressed by AW Hainsworth’s “wide range of support for employees,” as well as its “outstanding commitment to learning and development, with training opportunities across the organisation and available to all.”

“The progressive yet inclusive leadership style is again demonstrated in their commitment to apprenticeships,” said the judges. “With a strong emphasis on the next generation, it is clear that AW Hainsworth believes people are the key to long term sustainability for businesses".

Ben Wilson, interim chair of the Leeds Manufacturing Festival, and director of MPM, said: “These awards are a celebration of the many outstanding young people who have opted for what will no doubt be incredibly successful careers in manufacturing and we couldn’t do it without the support and engagement from our sponsors. Our industry needs more creative, dedicated young employees like our award winners and nominees to form the next generation of manufacturers and ensure the future of our sector.”

He added: “Progressive businesses like AW Hainsworth also act as a brilliant example of how employers can attract and nurture new talent, and they continue to foster and inspire creativity and innovation - in a company that is over two centuries old.

“Yet again, an impressive feature of this year’s festival has been the way younger employees have acted as ambassadors for our sector and as role models for other young people considering a career in manufacturing. The judges were incredibly impressed with the individual award winners, those who made the shortlist and with all those nominated. These young people are not just a credit to themselves, but also to their families and their employer, who have enabled them to flourish.”