Judith Mair – a good example of diversity, inclusion and apprenticeship achievement...

Talented young engineer, 21-year-old Judith Mair, has been named as the Best of British Engineering at the prestigious SEMTA Skills Awards 2018 in London. Judith, who works for Rolls-Royce in Derby, also won the Apprentice of the Year award category. Judith left school in the North East Scottish village of Portknockie, Buckie, between Aberdeen and Inverness, uncertain of her future and possible career choices.

Within three years, she has rapidly developed the necessary skills to successfully act as Non-Destructive Testing (NDT) Site Controller, demonstrating advanced competencies with an exceptional enthusiasm and commitment to learn and improve. As a passionate ambassador of apprenticeships and engineering, Judith has volunteered at numerous Rolls-Royce apprenticeship open evenings and skills festivals, hosted work experience students, explained apprenticeships to scholarship students at the British Institute of NDT (BINDT) headquarters and represented Rolls-Royce at Parliament. Throughout her apprenticeship she has consistently excelled in placements and is predicted to achieve a first-class degree.

Years ago, we used to think that someone who had achieved certification in ultrasonic testing in plate, pipe and nozzles was a top NDT technician but, as time progressed, the term ‘multi-skilled’ soon came into play. So, to then be a top NDT technician, you had to have certification in magnetic particle testing and dye penetrant testing in addition to the ultrasonic testing certification. The apprenticeships have raised the bar even further; the employers were very clear about what they wanted from an NDT apprenticeship. Whether the apprenticeship was for an NDT operator, an NDT engineering technician or an NDT engineer, the employers wanted their staff to be extensively trained and familiarised with engineering as a whole, but with a focus on NDT.

Employers and apprentices should not simply consider apprenticeships as a way of getting the levy back or for someone else to pay for the NDT training; they should consider this as a career opportunity for the apprentice, that will ultimately benefit the employer, who will in turn be able to provide a broader technical skills base to their internal and external customers.

Judith’s success with her apprenticeship not only gained her recognition at SEMTA but she has also been awarded the EFNDT Travel Award, which is given to enable a deserving employee associated with a national NDT society the opportunity to attend an overseas conference. Judith has also been awarded the BINDT Jim Cottier Travel Scholarship, which was introduced to aid the professional development of BINDT members by allowing them to attend overseas conferences. The award is open to any Institute members who are in the early stages of their careers, for example those who are either students or are within the first five years of full-time employment.

I know other apprentices are working towards a similar level of technical achievement as Judith and will ultimately be in contention for these awards in the future. Over the years, universities and NDT equipment manufacturers and developers have elevated NDT within the spectrum of engineering, but now NDT apprenticeships and the further development of employees are also contributing to this growth. Keep up the good work!

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