PA’s Gifted Engineer crowned UK’s top apprentice

Knutsford based Packaging Automation (PA) the leading manufacturer and exporter of specialist food packaging machinery received national recognition for its long established apprenticeship scheme this week when employee electrical engineer Christopher Eckert was named the UK’s top apprentice at the Semta Skills awards.
PA has trained more than 100 apprentices since the scheme started 30 years ago with former apprentices now holding director, management and team leader roles in the business today. As a rapidly growing business, PA needs to continually recruit and has struggled to find engineers who have the specialist skills required for the design and manufacture of food packaging machinery.

The award was announced at a dazzling gala dinner at London’s Hilton Hotel on Park Lane hosted by BBC journalist, presenter and engineering advocate Steph McGovern. Christopher was chosen from a final three with the other finalists representing world class multinational manufacturers Toyota and Mars.

Speaking at the event, award winner Christopher 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.”

While working, Chris has completed his HNC in Electrical/Electronic Engineering with distinction enabling him to win an employer sponsored place to study for a BEng Honours degree at Manchester Metropolitan University.

Neil Ashton PA’s Operations Director said “It’s incredible that a small business like us can compete let alone win against global giants. This award recognises the value that we can offer as a small business to manufacturing and engineering talent creation in the UK. We invest a vast amount of time and effort in developing young individuals that have aspirations to achieve whilst gaining a qualification. Equally as a small employer it is vital that the apprentices can add value to our operation as early on in their training programme as possible. Christopher has demonstrated through his skill, hard work, customer focus and determination that there is no limit to what he can achieve in engineering in the future.”

Link to video of interview with winner Christopher Eckert:
http://semta.org.uk/awards-2016-winner-apprentice
Semta Press Office - Dan Kirkby 07785 392 735

Background
Packaging Automation Ltd was established in 1963 and is a leading UK manufacturer of tray sealing and pot filling and sealing machinery.
PA can offer customers a tray sealer or pot filler for a wide range of applications in the food industry including fresh produce packing such as salad, tomato, strawberry and soft fruit packing, fish, seafood, meat and chicken packing (including vacuum packing and skin packing), ready meal sealing and packing, sandwich skillet sealing and pot or tub denesting, filling and sealing for puddings and sauces.
Full packing lines can be specified and installed to include tray denesting, conveyoring, tray filling, film sealing including modified atmosphere packing (MAP) facilities. Foil tray sealing as well as plastic tray sealing can be accommodated on all machines as standard.
For further information please contact:
Packaging Automation Ltd
Claire Carless
Marketing Assistant
claire.c@pal.co.uk
or
Samantha Ashton
Commercial Director
sam.a@pal.co.uk
Packaging Automation Ltd
Parkgate Industrial Park
Knutsford
Cheshire
WA16 8XW
01565 755000