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Graduate Apprentice David scoops prestigious national award

David William Mackenzie

Strathclyde student David William Mackenzie has won the Graduate Apprentice Rising Star award at this year’s Scottish Apprenticeship Awards.

David, who is in his second year of the Graduate Apprenticeship in Engineering: Design and Manufacture, was presented with his award at a ceremony in Dundee’s Caird Hall by the national skills agency, Skills Development Scotland.

The category showcases the dedication and commitment of Graduate Apprentices who have chosen the route to further their career and who make a significant contribution to their organisation’s performance.

Judge’s praised the “dedication and perseverance” of the Arbroath engineer, who works at GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) in Montrose, having previously worked as a sheet metal fabricator.

Technical skills

The 38 year-old was introduced to Graduate Apprenticeships to enable him to gain technical skills that support his hands-on experience, and he juggles working life with studying and taking care of his young family.

David said: “The whole experience of winning is a bit surreal. My wife has been very supportive so, this award is for her as much as it is for me. She is just as excited about my win.”

David who has the opportunity to work, earn and learn while gaining a degree, was preparing for an exam the day after the awards and added: “A Graduate Apprenticeship is an opportunity for people that are later in life that have kids and a full-time job. Life’s busy but, if you really want it, it’s there with Graduate Apprenticeships.”

He said he had received ‘massive’ support from his employer, and added: “To go on to a degree and apprenticeship at my age, you might have thought impossible, but I am living proof.

“Strathclyde University has given me the ability to achieve the apprenticeship, so a big ‘thanks’ to them.”

The Graduate Apprenticeship Engineering Design and Manufacture degree was the inaugural GA degree launched by Strathclyde in 2017 and led by Dr Andrew McLaren, Vice Dean Academic (Engineering] and other senior University colleagues.

Programme Leader Dr Susanne Boyle, said: “The innovative and collaborative approach to the programme enables the team to provide a quality work based learning degree which is enhancing the development of high calibre engineers such as David, whilst addressing the skills needs of a diverse range of Scottish engineering employers including GSK.”

GSK Maintenance Standardisation Manager Karen Harbison said: “David has performed exceptionally well in his first year on the Graduate Apprenticeship from rising to the challenge of academic learning, integrating into university life and maintaining his high standards at work.

“His ability to apply the skills that have been developed through the Graduate Apprenticeship have directly contributed to reduce the down-time of the plant and increase production efficiency.”

The overall winner at the awards, Jordan Fairlamb, who was named as Scotland’s top apprentice, started a graduate apprenticeship at Strathclyde Business School in September.

A full list of winners is published on the Scottish Apprenticeship Awards page.

Graduate Apprenticeships are fully-funded degree programmes which enable an organisation’s new and existing employees to study up to degree level while spending the majority of their time in the workplace.

Strathlcyde offers four other Gradiate Apprentice programmes  in IT: Cyber Security (MSc), IT Software Development BSc (Hons)Business Management BA (Hons) and BEng (Hons) Engineering: Civil Engineering.

The programmes are funded by Skills Development Scotland and supported by the European Social Fund.