A UK Atomic Energy Authority apprentice at Oxfordshire Advanced Skills is through to the finals of the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Apprentice Awards.
Harrison Shirley has been shortlisted in the Engineering and Manufacturing category at the BAME Apprentice Awards, which aim to showcase talent and diversity within BAME communities.
Harrison, who at 17 is one of the youngest learners at OAS, joined the Level 3 Engineering Technician programme straight from school as an apprentice with UKAEA. His commitment, enthusiasm and capability were evident from the start, and he has continued to exceed expectations as he progresses through the first year of his apprenticeship.
A keen advocate of apprenticeships, Harrison, from Greater Leys in Oxford, promotes the benefits of the programme to prospective learners and their parents, as well as employers looking to take on a new apprentice. He said he hopes that winning the award would enable him to reach and inspire even more people.
The BAME Awards are particularly important for the engineering sector, where diversity lags behind the UK’s overall workforce. Harrison wants to help transform the sector by celebrating and promoting diversity and equality, to make engineering more balanced and inclusive.
Harrison, who’s mother’s family are indigenous American, said, “It’s widely reported that only eight per cent of UK engineering professionals are from a BAME background. That will not change unless we have more BAME apprentices who will become the next generation of engineers. I want to raise awareness of the opportunities that engineering and manufacturing offers to young people from all walks of life.”
OAS is managed by apprentice training provider, MTC Apprenticeships. MTC’s Advanced Engineering apprenticeship helps learners develop the skills needed for delivering the technologies of the future in the high value manufacturing sector.
Adrian Leavitt, deputy director – delivery at OAS, said Harrison is an exemplary student and shows dedication to his development.
“His passion and enthusiasm are infectious, and he is a champion and ambassador both for the OAS training centre, and apprenticeships in general. He takes ownership of his own learning, holds himself to high standards, and consistently pushes himself to go above and beyond everyone’s expectations. We are delighted that he is part of our programme and proud to be supporting his engineering journey.”
In 2016, following reforms for training and apprenticeships, a target was set to increase diversity of apprenticeships by 20 per cent by 2020. The BAME Apprenticeship Awards were set up support this target, raising awareness of apprenticeships and increasing the proportion of apprenticeships taken up by young people from BAME backgrounds. The awards aim to inspire excellence, celebrate success and highlight the achievements of apprentices and the contribution of employers and learning providers who have assisted them along their journey.