Specialist weaver Sam Weller is celebrating the naming of one of its weaving apprentices as the Technical Certificate Learner of the Year. The accolade was awarded to Jason Booth at Huddersfield’s Textile Centre of Excellence last week during its Annual Award Presentation Ceremony.
Citing Jason’s consistency and knowledge as outstanding qualities, the Centre’s Lee Harrison said that Jason had exceeded expectations with both his coursework and practical assignments for the Level 3 Diploma in Textile Design & Manufacture.
“Jason was consistently the one who completed all work given to him on time,” says Harrison, head of training operations at the centre. “His assignments were written up to a high standard and were never referred for corrections, and his retained knowledge showed in the phase tests as he scored the highest of the group.”
Jason Booth, 26, took a rather unconventional route into British textiles having previously graduated with a degree in Chemistry from the University of Huddersfield. Tempted by a change of career, he approached Sam Weller via a family member who was an existing employee, and soon secured a position as a trainee weaver. His natural aptitude was such however, that the company’s head of weaving Paul Townend suggested he pursue an apprenticeship in Textile Design & Manufacture.
“As soon as Jason joined, I saw that he had the potential to go above and beyond the basics of overseeing the looms,” says Paul Townend, who has headed up Sam Weller’s weaving operation for over 20 years. “His combination of a willingness to learn on the factory floor and a natural aptitude for off-the-job study means he will be well-placed to take over my role as head of weaving at some point in the future.”
For Jason, the potential career progression of on-the-job training has been a real incentive throughout his studies. “Young people do need to be more aware of the potential of jobs in British manufacture, and the potential of apprenticeships in general,” he says. “I have a degree, but a degree doesn’t always stand you in good stead for an actual job. It was definitely the right choice for me to pursue a career with Sam Weller, and the surprise of being named Learner of the Year is a real incentive to continue with my studies as far as I can.”
The Diploma in Textile Design & Manufacture includes a significant amount of study, and learners are expected to complete numerous assignments in their own time. They are required to undertake significant research and to complete practical and theoretical tests on fibres, yarns and fabrics, while also undertaking quality testing and passing health & safety exams and specialist industry assignments.
The Diploma is just one of many certificates recognised at the Textile Centre of Excellence’s Annual Awards Presentation Ceremony. The event attracts around 250 visitors every year, and has been known to feature high profile key note speakers including Barry Sheerman MP, former Secretary of State for BIS Dr Vince Cable and most recently Mark Dawe Chief Executive of AELP.
Pictured: Learner of the Year Jason Booth, Sam Weller’s Head of Weaving Paul Townend and fellow Sam Weller apprentice Nathan Townend.