Sheffield Hallam student named Apprentice of the Year

2nd December 2022

A Sheffield Hallam University student has been named Apprentice of the Year at the annual Food and Drink Federation awards.

Caitlin Jones, a food industry technical professional degree apprentice at Hallam, was joint recipient of the award which recognises exceptional progress in skills development or exceptional contribution to the business through a one-off project.

Caitlin works as an Assistant Technologist for Co-op Food, having started her apprenticeship in 2020. She won the award after playing a fundamental role in developing allergen awareness training packs for Co-op academy students in response to Natasha’s law.

The packs were recognised business-wide and commended by third-party allergen charities. Caitlin was also part of developing virtual allergen training course for Co-op colleagues.

Caitlin said: “It’s such an honour to have been recognised as apprentice of the year by the Food and Drink Federation. I’m especially proud to be able to celebrate the fantastic support and opportunities that both the Co-op and Sheffield Hallam university have provided me with over the course of my apprenticeship and demonstrate that age is no barrier to achieving great things.

“The food industry technical professional degree apprenticeship programme has been a fantastic kickstart to my career and allowed me to implement learnt knowledge into real life situations all whilst developing key work-based skills and building strong networks for my future.” 

A second Sheffield Hallam student, Finley Pryde, a packaging professional degree apprentice with Unilever UK & Ireland was also shortlisted in the category.

Another of the award winners was Koolmill who received the Manufacturing Initiative of the Year Award for their NextGEN Rice Milling. Their technology has helped to reduce energy use and wastage during the rice milling process.

Koolmill is a key research and innovation partner of Sheffield Hallam University’s National Centre of Excellence for Food Engineering (NCEFE). The University and Koolmill are partners in a £1.1m international partnership funded by Innovate UK to investigate rice processing and waste minimisation.

NCEFE Director, Professor Martin Howarth, collected the award on Koolmill’s behalf.

Professor Martin Howarth said: “It was a pleasure to involved in the awards and to see our students one of our close research and innovation partners receive recognition for their exceptional work in the food manufacturing field.  

“It is vital that we continue to celebrate success and innovate in the food and drink sector, particularly with the challenges of rising food prices driven by high energy and raw materials costs as well as skills and labour shortages.”

The University’s National Centre of Excellence for Food Engineering also sponsored the Food and Drink Engineer of the Year award, recognising the importance of engineering skills and expertise in supporting the food manufacturing sector to grow. The winner was Laetitia Rynhoud, Senior Engineering Manager at Jordans Dorset Ryvita.

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