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Apprentice of the Year 2019 Winner’s Story: Robyn Clarke

The old saying “all in a day’s work” comes to mind when describing Robyn Clarke, the winner of the Semta Skills Awards Apprentice of the Year 2019. For the Quality Engineer from Toyota Manufacturing UK, nomination and winning an award came as a shock. “I was surprised because to me, everything that I’m being nominated for – that’s just my job,” says Robyn. “I don’t really see that I’m doing a job and a degree, and STEM. That’s just normal to me now so I don’t see it as anything special.”

Robyn has always been passionate about engineering. From representing the UK at international level competing in the Mechatronics competition at World Skills back in 2015 to lifting the trophy for ‘Graduate or Degree Apprentice of the Year 2019’ at the annual Semta Skills Awards. The modest engineer from Cheshire has achieved quite a lot in a short amount of time.

A familiar face to Semta since her time at World Skills, Toyota, the company she’s been with for the last 8 years nominated Robyn for the award. “I came straight from school and this is my second apprenticeship with them,” says Robyn. “So I did a lower and then this is my higher apprenticeship with them. It’s nice to get some recognition for this massive 8-year journey that I’ve been through to get here. I was aware of the awards from when I competed in World Skills 2015 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Semta is quite a big supporter of the competition for the engineers and they’ve been a big cheerleader for us throughout.”

The Semta Skills Awards judging panel commended Robyn, not only for her excellence as an engineer but also her proactive approach to engaging with skills development programmes at Toyota Manufacturing UK. She has inspired young female engineers to pursue careers path very like her own.

This passion for encouraging others has filtered into Robyn’s activities post winning the award this year. “We’ve run some ‘women in engineering’ events this year which I’ve been involved in. It’s not just girls, I speak to anyone from school age onwards who are looking at what they’d like to do after school,” says Robyn. “I’ve also been to a graduate fair as well to seek out future post-graduate potential. I’ve come through the whole system, so I can talk about the lower apprenticeship scheme, I can talk about the graduate scheme. It just gives me a bit more of a story to tell I suppose.”

Winning the award has unquestionably spurred Robyn on to do even more as a STEM ambassador and inspiring the future of British engineering. “It’s definitely a confidence boost,” says Robyn. “I’m very self-critical so it’s good to have somebody say you’re doing well and having some recognition for all these things I’ve done. I aim to pass my degree, do as well as I can in that and try and get as good a grade as I can. I’ve not really thought much further to that because that’s such a big hurdle to overcome for now.”

Grateful for Semta’s input within her own career journey, Robyn recommends the Skills Awards to other apprentices and businesses within the sector. “It’s great for big and small businesses to have someone that’s been awarded an award by Semta,” says Robyn. “Most people in the engineering sector have heard of Semta. On top of that, the ceremony itself is great fun. It’s a really good atmosphere. It’s great to meet different people from all sorts of different engineering sectors. It’s a fab night overall as well.”

How to nominate for the Semta Skills Awards 2020

There’s still time to nominate for the Semta Skills Awards 2020. This year there are 14 awards on offer including six completely new categories. Nominate yourself, your organisation or somebody else via a simple online form that takes as little as 10 minutes to complete.

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