AN engineer who helped produce personal protective equipment (PPE) during the pandemic has been named Scotland’s Apprentice of the year. Samir Khan-Young also won Graduate Apprentice of the Year for excelling in his role; which included working night shifts in order to produce PPE for the NHS.

Samir was one of a number of winners at the Scottish Apprenticeship Awards, co-ordinated by Skills Development Scotland, who had shown resilience over the past year during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The 25-year-old Engineering: Design and Manufacture Graduate Apprenticeship with Thales said: “It was great to put my skills to good use during lockdown as part of the nightshift team who were making PPE for NHS staff. It was a rewarding experience.” 

Having previously completed a Modern Apprenticeship at Thales, Samir was aware that a Graduate Apprenticeship was the natural progression.  Samir, who also plays for Shettleston Football Club, said: “I knew that a Graduate Apprenticeship was the perfect next step for me to progress after my Modern Apprenticeship.  My award is a direct reflection of the support and encouragement my colleagues have given me, which has allowed me to grow professionally.”

Samir’s manager, Industrial Architect Stephen Francis, said: “Everybody recognised Samir’s technical and social skills – he is a true role model for our other apprentices.”

NHS Lothian worker Tamara Kamal was successful in the Modern Apprentice of the Year Level 6 category, sponsored by Young Person’s Guarantee, having worked on the frontline throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. The 23-year-old, who works at Edinburgh’s Royal Infirmary, said the past year has been an extremely challenging chapter in her life, but says the skills and support she received throughout her apprenticeship proved vital. 


Tamara said: “Thankfully my apprenticeship training has helped me during these difficult times and I’ve had the support of my team.”

Kelso’s Scotmas Group won the SME Employer of the Year award, sponsored by SQA, for the role its apprentices played in producing disinfectant for the NHS. 

Faced with huge restrictions due to the pandemic, Scotmas managed to shift the business from their traditional tasks to the increased manufacture of disinfectant for the NHS; something CEO Alistair Cameron says underlined the value of their apprenticeship set-up. 


Alistair said: “The strength and flexibility of our apprenticeship framework has already paid dividends over the past year.”

East Lothian’s Annabel Stewart, 17, won the Foundation Apprentice of the Year prize, which was sponsored by Balfour Beatty, after her outstanding science work with Charles River Laboratories. 


Annabel’s manager, Stephen Madden, Head of Regulatory ADME and Discovery Sciences at Charles River Laboratories, said: “Throughout her time here, Annabel is naturally growing and thinking more clearly about what she wants to do.”

Paisley’s Ciara Phillips won the Modern Apprentice of the Year – Level 5 award, sponsored by College Development Network, after a university u-turn had led to a thriving career at Morgan Stanley. Originally set to study at University, Ciara chose to become an apprentice with Morgan Stanley and the 20-year-old has since passed her accountancy exams with flying colours.  

Diageo electrical engineer Cameron MacDonald, from West Lothian, won Scotland’s Apprentice Network’s Apprentice Ambassador of the Year accolade after championing the merits of apprenticeships at schools and events across the country. 

The 21-year-old completed his Modern Apprenticeship in electrical engineering before being appointed Operational Technology Lead. Now he is combining that job with a Graduate Apprenticeship that will ultimately lead to a degree in Engineering – Electrical Design and Manufacture at Heriot-Watt University. 

BAE Systems’ Marie Brennan was crowned Apprentice Instructor of the Year, earning recognition for her ongoing support of Modern Apprentices as well as introducing Foundation and Graduate Apprenticeships at the shipbuilding firm. 

Since joining the Glasgow-based organisation in 2008, Apprentice and Skills Development Leader Marie, who lives in Alloa, has supported over 180 apprentices.

Balfour Beatty was named Large Employer of the Year, sponsored by JP Morgan, for their philosophy of promoting homegrown talent through apprenticeships. 

The UK’s leading construction and infrastructure company, Balfour Beatty currently has 70 apprentices as part of its highly successful workforce in Scotland.

Adhering to a philosophy of developing future experts, Balfour Beatty believes supporting Foundation, Modern and Graduate Apprentices is the best way to nurture the next generation of talent.

Employers were also recognised for their commitment to developing a diverse workforce through apprenticeships. 

Glasgow-based law firm, Harper MacLeod won the Large Employer of the Year – Promoting Diversity category. 

The SME Employer of the Year – Promoting Diversity prize was awarded to Edinburgh-based accountancy firm, Zen Consultants.  Livingston’s Openreach training school was presented with the Innovation in Learning Provision Award for the adaptions it made to Modern Apprentices’ learning during the pandemic. 

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