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Skills Champion of the Year 2017

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Martin is champion of skills
Dagenham manager wins Semta Skills Award

martin-tomkins-skills-champion-winnerInspirational automotive manager Martin Tomkins has picked up a prestigious engineering award for his work in championing a career in industry to the next generation – having started his own journey at Ford as a technical apprentice 32 years ago.

Martin, the Manufacturing and Plant Engineering Manager at Ford Motor Company’s Dagenham complex beat off strong competition to be named the UK’s Skills Champion of the Year, sponsored by BAE Systems Ltd, at the Semta Skills Awards 2017 gala dinner in London’s Hilton Hotel on Park Lane hosted by BBC presenter Alexander Armstrong.

"This is fabulous and something which is the culmination of a lot of work," said Martin. "While I stand here holding the trophy, this is a team effort from Ford. I started as an apprentice, I have got a Masters degree and I am a manager so I have been through all the stages."

Martin has an extremely varied, busy and challenging role. In addition to his manager duties, Martin leads a wide variety of activities to support skills development. He is a passionate and enthusiastic ambassador for engineering and leads the plant's work experience programme (with 10 students placed in 2016). The work Martin has led and participated in at the local Robert Clack School has seen an increased take up of GCSE Design and Technology from 56 students in 2013/2014 to 75 in 2015/2016.

As a former apprentice, Martin actively supports the Ford apprenticeship programme from recruitment and selection, to providing ongoing assistance to ensure apprentices receive first class training. He has also been very active in developing current employees impacted by business restructuring and ensuring their skills are fully utilised and updated.

Paul Neighbour, Plant Manager at Dagenham Engine Plant said: “Martin shows true passion for the business and in developing young people. He engages with people of all ages – whether they are schoolchildren or apprentices, engineers in their formative years or indeed in the upskilling of our more mature people, he works with them relentlessly, drives them forward and really makes things happen."

Ann Watson, CEO of Semta, the not-for-profit organisation tasked with skilling engineering and manufacturing in the UK said: “Martin is a very deserving winner of the Semta Skills Award and is an inspirational role model for others. As a former apprentice himself he knows what a fantastic route it is into a career and uses his experience and knowledge to encourage and enthuse the next generation.

“He is exactly the sort of person we need to bang the drum for engineers. If we are to achieve the 800,000 extra engineers we need by 2020 it is vital we have more young men and women in STEM careers to keep the skills talent pipeline flowing for UK plc.”


Runners up were: Jo Lopes, Jaguar Land Rover and Andy Young, British Airways

Watch a video of Martin at the awards:

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